Making a will to protect children
If you die in England or Wales without a valid will and you have children under 18, others can make decisions about who will take care of the children and manage their finances and education.
From as little as £150 (including VAT) a will provides peace of mind of knowing the children will be protected and cared for after you pass away.
When we have provided you with a written quote for the agreed work, that price will not change. As part of the Amaryllis Associates, our value of openness, honesty, social responsibility and caring for others are core to the service we provide.
If you have children under 18 years old
Amaryllis Associates can help you every step of the way to write a will that will name both guardians and trustees for your children. Our will writers make the will writing process as quick and straightforward as possible, and ensure that all the legal aspects of your wishes are properly covered.
Choosing a legal guardian for your children
When making a will, most people focus on what will happen to their assets when they die.But if you have children, it’s also essential to consider who would care for them if you were no longer around. It’s possible to appoint a legal guardian for your children when you make your will.
Parents can appoint a legal guardian to care for their children if they die while the child is under 18. The requirements for formally appointing a legal guardian are very similar to the requirements of putting a will in place. For example, it needs to be in writing and signed in the presence of two witnesses. It’s for this reason that many people incorporate their choice of legal guardian into the terms of their will.
So how do you choose the right legal guardian? Firstly, it’s important to recognise that the guardianship appointment would only take effect if there was no one else alive who already has parental responsibility. So normally the terms of the guardianship appointment would state that it only takes effect if both parents have died.
The next step is to consider who, outside of the natural parents, would be most suitable. Sometimes this is an obvious choice. However, in a lot of instances it’s not so clear cut. You’ll need to consider where they live, their religious or ethical beliefs, their relationship with your child, whether they will want to take on the responsibility of raising your child.
Some of the key factors to consider when choosing a legal guardian include:
- If the guardians are older than you (such as your parents) will they be able to care for your children until they’re 18?
- If the guardians have children of their own, who’s house would they all live in, theirs or yours?
- If the the guardians live in a different part of the UK, would your child need to relocate, leaving their school and friends behind?
When it comes to choosing a guardian, there’s no right or wrong answer, other than what you feel would be in the best interests of your child.
If you have children over 18 years old
The rules of intestacy state that all children will receive their inheritance outright at the age of 18, whatever their financial position or their levels of maturity. The rules of intestacy also state that, if your children are entitled to benefit, then your estate will be divided up equally between all your children (excluding stepchildren), which may not be what you want.
Making a will can ensure that your grown-up children receive their inheritance when you choose. It may be that you want them to inherit at age 21 or 25 rather than age 18, or perhaps you’d prefer that they had a share of their inheritance at age 18 and receive the remainder at a later date.
If you have stepchildren
The rules of intestacy were created in 1925 and they don’t always accomodate modern family structures, and they don’t recognise stepchildren at all.
If you have children from a previous marriage
If you’re in a relationship but not married or in a civil partnership with your partner and you die without a will, all your property and possessions in your estate will be inherited by your children, meaning your new partner will be left with nothing.
However if you’ve married or entered into a civil partnership and you die without a will, your new spouse or partner will inherit the first £250,000 of your estate outright, which may leave your children with little or no inheritance. This is referred to as the sideways disinheritance trap, because the estate moves sideways to the new partner rather than down to the children.
It’s possible to make a will that protects your children’s inheritance after you remarry, while also providing for your new spouse or partner. Tryst wills can be an effective way of doing this.
Are inheritance rules different for adopted children?
If a child has not been legally adopted, they will not be entitled to inherit under inheritance rules. The best way to ensure a child is provided for if they have not been legally adopted is to name them in your will.
When making a will, it is important to beware of using terms such as ‘my children’ because this would exclude step-children and children who aren’t biological or legally adopted. An invalid or poorly drafted will could mean that a step-child or unofficially adopted child misses out on their inheritance.