Why every parent needs a Will

Thursday, 9 May 2019

It’s a boy!  Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the birth of their son this week. 

While the life of any new parent revolves around feeding, nappy changing and a distinct lack of sleep(!) there is also an important issue that all parents should address. Although it may be the last thing on anyone’s mind as they adapt to life as a new parent, every parent should have a Will.

If you die without a Will, it could lead to uncertainty and financial worry for your family.  Without a Will, your estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy.  By making a Will you can make sure that your family will be provided for and your estate will be divided the way you want.   In your Will you can make provision for how much your children will inherit and, just as importantly, at what age they will inherit. 

The age of legal capacity in Scotland is 16 which most people would agree is far too young an age to inherit any significant sum of money.  If you die without a Will or your Will does not make specific provision for this then your children will inherit your estate at the age of 16.  It is better to include trust provisions in your Will which set out the age your children will inherit (usually 18, 21 or 25 years old).   These type of trusts are flexible and allow funds to be advanced to your children before such an age.  Any advance payments would be made at the discretion of the Trustees appointed under your Will and are to be for your children’s direct benefit such as education costs.

But its not just about money.  Making a Will also allows you to appoint Guardians for your children who will then be legally responsible for your children’s upbring.  If these plans are not outlined in your Will, and both parents have died, then it is left to the courts to decide.  Appointing a Guardian in your Wills is one of the most crucial things parents with young children need to consider. 

The person(s) you choose will take over your legal rights and responsibility for your children and so it is important to consider this carefully.  You may wish to appoint a relative such as your parents or a sibling.  However if the grandparents are elderly or there are no siblings then you may wish to consider appointing a friend or friends of a similar age to you.  You can appoint more than one person as Guardian and often, for practical reasons, people appoint a couple as joint Guardians.

We always recommend that our clients review their Wills if their family circumstances change.  Having children is certainly an opportune time to make sure your affairs are in order by making or updating your Will.  You can then sleep soundly (well as soundly as possible with small children anyway!) knowing that your children and partner will be taken care of according to your wishes if the worst should happen.

At Stevenson Marshall, we have a team of highly experienced Solicitors ready to help you make a Will.  If you would like to discuss Wills or indeed any other aspect of Lifetime Legal planning then please contact one of our Lifetime Legal team on 01383 721141.

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