Things you should know about providing for your children
Posted on 19th February 2019
The nine-year-old who got nothing – the parents of a young child divorced, and both later remarried. Just a year after remarrying, the mother died, leaving her nine-year-old child behind.
Of course, losing a young woman in her forties was a shock for all the family. However, what hadn’t been realised is that marriage cancels existing wills.
Strictly, the mother’s new husband could claim her entire estate, and he did. Although attempts were made to secure some of the mother’s estate for the child, they were unsuccessful. The child grew up to be a lawyer, but never forgot the impact this experience had on her.
As a parent, there are a number of important things you can put in place for your children. Please spend a few minutes reading the information below to avoid a situation like the one above in your family:
Every year, thousands of children under the age of eighteen lose one of their parents. As long as both parents are co-guardians then their remaining parent will be responsible for their care.
You can also appoint a ‘testamentary guardian’ in your Will or in a signed written statement. They must be at least 20 years of age at the time your death.
If your children’s other parent is a guardian and is still alive, then a testamentary guardian would share guardianship with them.
A testamentary guardian’s role doesn’t include day-to-day care, but they can make major decisions about your children’s upbringing. If they want to be involved in the day-to-day care of your children they can apply to the Family Court for a parenting order.
If your children’s other parent disagrees with your decision about who should be the testamentary guardian, they can apply to the Family Court to remove them or appoint someone else. The decision will be based on your children’s best interest.
If both parents die without appointing one or more guardians for their children, then the court must decide who will look after them
Children under the age of 18 can’t inherit money, so it’s important that you appoint trustees who can look after their inheritance until they reach this age.
Otherwise, the Law of Intestacy will apply. All your children will receive their inheritance at the age of 18, whatever their financial position or ability to manage their own finances. Your estate will be divided up equally between all your children (excluding stepchildren) which may not be what you want.
You might want to prioritise provision for your children under 18, even if some of your children are already over 18. You can also specify that only part of an inheritance is paid at 18, with the rest at 21 or 25, for example.
Stepchildren will not inherit anything from you unless to state your wishes clearly in your Will.
If you aren’t married to you children’s other parent, they won’t automatically inherit anything if you die, so you also need to consider how they will take care of your young children without you.
If you are separated from your children’s other parent and have married or entered into a civil partnership your new spouse or partner will inherit the first £250,000 of your estate, if you haven’t made a Will. This could leave your children with little or no inheritance.
If you would like to discuss making provision for your children in your Will then please contact Angela Jane on 07825 331444.
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