‘Bear’ Necessities – why new parents should make a will

Bear Payne.

This is the name the media and fans have been eagerly awaiting on following the much anticipated arrival of Cheryl and Liam Payne’s baby boy in March. I remember agonising over baby name books trying to decide what to name our children and Bear’s arrival brought me back to the time when I became a new parent and my life changed forever.

Becoming a parent is an exciting if not hectic time and it takes a while to adjust to the lack of sleep, constant feeding and changing nappies! Being a parent brings an enormous responsibility to care for your children during their lifetime, but there is also a responsibility to care for your children should you no longer be around.

The Childhood Bereavement Network estimated that in 2015, 23,600 parents died in the UK, leaving an estimated 41,000 dependent children aged 0-17. Where does that leave them?

So whether you are a brand shiny new parent like Cheryl and Liam or a more experienced, but utterly exhausted parent with young and demanding children (I fall into the latter category!), now is an ideal time to think about putting your affairs in order to ensure that your children are cared for by the person or people of your choice and that financial provisions are in place should anything unforeseen happen.

The answer is simple – make a Will.

In this document you can appoint a guardian who would be responsible for your children’s welfare should you not be around and set out the financial provisions determining when your children will receive their inheritance.

As a parent, appointing a guardian is probably the most important thing parents with young children need to consider. You may wish to consider a family member such as your own parents or a sibling, but if the grandparents are elderly or perhaps there are no or unsuitable siblings, you may wish to consider appointing a friend or friends of a similar age to you or perhaps even younger.

Often a couple are considered rather than two unrelated individuals. The person(s) you choose would take over your legal rights and responsibilities so it is vital you are comfortable with your choice! It would of course be prudent to discuss matters with the person(s) to ensure that they would accept such an appointment prior to making your Will.

If you do not appoint a guardian in your Will, it is left to the courts to decide. This will result in a time consuming and costly process which is obviously stressful for those involved. It would be cheaper, quicker and easier for everyone if a guardian was appointed so staying away from court procedure altogether.

With regards to financial provision, you can, in your Will, set out how much of your estate your children will inherit and at what age. The age of legal capacity in Scotland is 16 and most people feel this is far too young for their children to inherit a potentially large sum of money. If there is no Will in place or your Will does not specify an age to inherit, then your children will receive funds at 16 years old..

To avoid this, trust provisions should be considered and included in your Will. Inclusion of a trust will set out the age that you wish your children to inherit, usually 18, 21 or 25. The trust can be flexible to allow the advancement of both income and capital before that age, to assist with ongoing costs including education, if thought suitable by the trustees you have appointed in your Will. It would be sensible to have at least three trustees so that there is a majority and the trustees do not have to be the same individuals that you have appointed as guardians.

Your Will should be reviewed when your family circumstances change and having children is an ideal time to put your affairs in order and make/update your Will. It will only take a few hours of your time to make a straightforward Will, but it could make all the difference to your children’s future. Once in place, you can then go back to the hardest but most rewarding job in the world!