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Wills and Children

Protecting your child, whether they are a baby or an independent adult, is a lifelong job for any parent. You may think that you have done everything you can for your children but have you made a Will? If you have not, then you should do so to make sure your children are protected in the event of your death.

Will solicitors

For help with preparing your Will call London based OTS Solicitors Wills team on 0203 959 9123 or contact us through our online enquiry form.

Our professional friendly team of Will solicitors will guide you through the process of preparing a Will to protect your children.

Protecting your children

None of us like to contemplate our mortality but when you have children you have a responsibility to protect them, during your life and afterwards. You can protect your children in a number of ways including:

  • Making a Will and discussing how best to protect your child from the Will being challenged or ensuring your children receiving their inheritance when they are mature enough to benefit from it;
  • Ensuring your Will is up to date. For example if you have separated from a partner or have re-married since making your Will or have formed a new relationship and now are responsible for step children, your Will may require updating;
  • Taking inheritance tax advice to maximise the amount of your estate and the money that you are able to leave to your children;
  • Testamentary guardian appointment in your Will if you have children under the age of eighteen. A parent can appoint a testamentary guardian in their Will provided that they have parental responsibility for their child. If you are an unmarried father you may not have automatic parental responsibility for your child and may need to first obtain parental responsibility by agreement or court order. On the death of the parent, the testamentary guardian has parental responsibility for the child provided that there is no surviving parent who has parental responsibility for the child. If there is a potential for dispute about where or with whom your child should live in the event of your death then appointing a relative as your testamentary guardian is a powerful way of ensuring that your relatives and the court (if court proceedings for a child arrangements order were started by a relative) knows what your wishes were;
  • Placing money in trust for your children either during your lifetime or in your Will. If you create a discretionary trust you could help protect your children’s inheritance;
  • Age of inheritance by deciding and putting in your Will at what age your children should inherit money, for example at age eighteen or twenty five and choosing trustees who can exercise discretion to advance either capital or income to your children;
  • Signing a Family law agreement such as a cohabitation agreement or prenuptial agreement and making sure your Will is consistent with the terms of your cohabitation agreement or prenuptial agreement. This could help protect your child’s inheritance;
  • Signing a power of attorney so if you lose capacity to make your own decisions there are arrangements and safeguards in place.

Dying without a Will     

The majority of people do not really know what will happen to their money or estate if they die without leaving a Will. Most assume that their spouse, partner or children will inherit their money but intestacy rules can produce unexpected results. That is why it is best to make a Will to protect your children so you know what you are leaving them.

If you die without making a will, the law decides who gets what under what are known as intestacy provisions. The intestacy rules currently say:

  • If you are married or in a civil partnership and your estate is valued at more than £250,000 then your partner will get all your personal belongings, the first £250,000 of your estate and half of your remaining estate. Your children will therefore share half the excess of your estate over the value of £250,000;
  • If you are not married or in a civil partnership then your children will inherit all your estate.

Intestacy rules can produce some very odd and unfair results because:

  • A cohabiting partner will not inherit anything under intestacy rules. If your children receive all your estate this may lead to conflict or even litigation between your partner and any children, especially if you have children from previous relationships;
  • Intestacy rules do not distinguish between the ages or financial circumstances of your children. The children will each get the same amount even if one child is a lot younger or more vulnerable or even if you have given one child money to fund a house deposit;
  • Your step children will not receive anything under intestacy rules;
  • Your children will get all their inheritance at age eighteen. You might have preferred your children to receive all or some of their inheritance when they are more mature, for example at age twenty one or even aged twenty five;
  • If you are separated from your spouse or civil partner but you have not got divorced your partner will still receive a share of your estate under intestacy provisions;
  • If your spouse or civil partner inherits the majority of your estate under intestacy provisions they can leave the money to whoever they want in their Will or, if they die without a Will, the money they inherited from you may pass to their new spouse or civil partner under intestacy rules;
  • If you are an international family then forced heirship rules may apply to some of your overseas assets. If you prepare a Will in England then you can take into account any overseas forced heirship rules that would otherwise result in a family member receiving a greater share of your overseas assets and producing what you would view as unfair distribution of wealth between family members.

Dying without making a Will is not just a bad idea because it does not protect your children financially. It also means that you have not appointed a testamentary guardian or made decisions about the age at which your children should receive their inheritance.

How can OTS Solicitors help?

Many people put off writing a Will, thinking that it can be done tomorrow. For some tomorrow never happens as they think that seeing a Will solicitor to sort out a Will takes a lot of time and preparation. Writing a Will can be quicker and easier that you imagine.

The Will writing team at OTS Solicitors can:

  • Discuss your family circumstances to make sure that your Will meets your personal situation;
  • Talk to you about the approximate size of your estate so that you are aware of potential inheritance tax issues;
  • Discuss your wishes and give advice on any potential claims or challenges to the provisions you are planning to make in your Will;
  • Make your Will as future proof as possible.

Will solicitors

For help with preparing a Will from specialist and approachable Will solicitors please call London based OTS Solicitors Wills team on 0203 959 9123 or contact us through our online enquiry form.

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