In this article, we’ll be explaining how you can protect your children when writing a will…
Writing a will is a good way of ensuring that your wishes are honoured once you’re gone, and even more so if you have children. Those with kids will usually have a long list of things that they want to bequeath to them when they die. However, the one thing most of us don’t want to leave our children, on top of the grief and pain, are difficulties with dividing assets and the involvement of a contentious probate lawyer.
In this article, we’ll be taking you through the ways in which you can protect your children when writing your will…
What is a will?
A last will and testament are legal documents which detail your intentions regarding what will happen to your assets when you die. These documents, which need to be signed, dated and lodged with a solicitor, will list your assets, for example, your house, your car, and cash, and will state who should receive each item.
Figures suggest that around 31 million Brits do not make a will. For their children, this can sometimes mean a lengthy and costly probate process that needs to be completed before they are able to claim their inheritance.
For this reason, when you become a parent, it’s a good idea to start thinking about Wills. Writing a will can help to protect your children and establish what happens with your assets among other things.
How to Protect Your Children When Writing a Will
The best way you can protect your children is to make a will in the first place – but that’s by no means all. In order to make sure that your childrens’ inheritance is rock solid, it’s advisable you make sure that a few things are covered, and, in this section, we’ll run through these:
If your children are under the age of 18, it is essential that you state in your will who should be given guardianship or trusteeship of those children for instance, who will look after them in the event of your death. If you do not have a will or do not include these details in your will, it may come down to a court or judge to decide who will take on this incredibly important job.
The division of assets
If you have more than one child over the age of 18, and you don’t have a will, your assets will be divided equally between these children. If you prefer to leave different amounts to each of your children, or you want to stipulate the age at which each child will receive their inheritance, for example, 21 or 25 then this must be clearly stated in your will.
Having a spouse
If you are married or in a civil partnership, and you don’t leave a will when you die, your partner or spouse will stand to inherit the first £250,000 of your estate automatically. Depending on your financial circumstances, this can mean that your children will receive little or nothing in favour of your spouse. For this reason, making a will is essential for making sure that your children receive the inheritance that you intend for them.
Stepchildren and adopted children
If you have legally adopted children, the same rules will apply as with biological children if you don’t leave a will stating otherwise. However, any stepchildren that you may have will not automatically inherit from your estate. If you wish to include stepchildren when divvying up your assets, this needs to be stated clearly in your will with their full names and addresses.
What About excluding Children?
While we’ve talked about protecting your children by making sure that they receive the assets that you intend them to receive, this also works the other way round in terms of your will. If you have children, they will automatically inherit a portion of your estate.
While this is not a problem for many people, it can be an issue if, for whatever reason, you do not wish any of your assets to go to your children. In some cases, people choose to disinherit their children due to estrangement or a falling out.
If you wish to exclude a biological child from inheriting your assets, it’s essential that you state this clearly in your will. Even if you have made this clear in your will, the child may still be able to make a claim on your estate.
However, you can limit this risk by writing a letter detailing your reasons for disinheriting that child and keeping a copy of this letter with your signed and dated will. Although this does not guarantee that your wishes will be honoured, it will go a long way to convincing a judge of your decision.
Writing a Will
In the UK, there are laws in place to ensure that your assets are protected in the event of your death – to a point. Although the law will do its best to make sure your assets are divided fairly, it’s your responsibility to make sure that this is the case. The only way to do this is to write a will and file a copy of your will with a reputable solicitor.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained legal professional. Be sure to consult a wills and probate lawyer/solicitor if you’re seeking advice on writing a will. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.