A guide to Will-writing for parents and step-parents

Nobody likes to think of their own death, particularly for those with young children. And yet making a Will is one of the most important things a parent can do. Here’s what you need to know.

If you’re a parent, you need to write a Will. There are two main reasons for this: to ensure your children and/or step-children inherit as you wish, and; to ensure that any children under the age of eighteen would be appointed to the care of a guardian, rather than being taken into the care of social services.

Despite these important considerations, fifty-four per cent of parents don’t have a valid Will, according to Will Aid. This blog is a brief guide to making a Will as a parent. We hope that it makes a difficult topic a little easier.

Inheritance laws for children and step-children

Modern families can be complicated, with different parents and children forming a family unit. Inheritance is complicated further by whether parents are married or unmarried.

It’s important to note that step-children do not have an automatic right to inherit anything. This is in stark contrast to the right of your own children to inherit automatically under the law; adopted children have the same rights as natural children.

What to do to ensure your children and step-children inherit as you wish

If you’d like your step-children to receive any portion of your estate upon your death, they must be named in your Will. Sometimes, parents in new relationships do not want their step-children to inherit anything. This should be made clear in the Will. It’s also a good idea to include a letter of wishes alongside the Will to back this up.

Who becomes your child’s guardian in the event of your death?

The short answer is that if there is not another parent, the child is placed in the care of social services. Many people assume that if they were to die, their children would go to live with grandparents, aunts and uncles or maybe godparents. This is incorrect.

If you’re making a Will and you have children under the age of eighteen, consider who’d be willing and able to look after them if you couldn’t. Bear in mind the child’s perspective, as this would be an extremely distressing time for them. Do they like the nominated family member? How would it impact their schooling, where they live, or any religious considerations?

It’s vital that you speak to the guardian you have in mind too. If the worst were to happen, they are prepared for the responsibility.

Seek professional advice on making a Will

The idea of missing out on your child growing up, of not being there to look out for them is distressing. We understand it’s not an easy subject. However, the implications of not having a Will in place is much greater for family further down the line, if the worse were to happen.

If you’d like to write a Will but you’re unsure where to start, perhaps My Family Legacy can help? We answer difficult, complex questions in a sensitive manner. Call 0117 279 5507 to see if we could help you, no obligation.

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