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CooperBurnett Solicitors are here to help. If you would like more information about any aspect of making a Will.

By Katie Hancock, Associate Solicitor

Making a Will is important for so many reasons. It isn’t just about who inherits your estate after you’ve gone. It isn’t just something wealthy people need. It isn’t something you should put off while you’re ‘too young to worry about it’. Shockingly, less than half of the adult population of the UK have a Will in place. And yet, in these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to make sure your affairs are in order.

One of the most important reasons to make a Will, which is often overlooked, is to appoint a guardian for your children in the event of your death before they are 18 years old. If you die without appointing a guardian, there is no certainty about who will be responsible for taking care of your children and the decision will usually be made by a Court. Your children may well end up being taken care of by someone you would not have chosen nor approved of.

Not only is there a risk of significant disruption and upheaval to a grieving child, at an already distressing time, but there is also the distinct possibility of conflict between family members over who should look after them. In the absence of a surviving parent or other person with parental responsibility, there is nobody who would automatically be entitled to become the child’s legal guardian.

The best way to avoid any ambiguity and to prevent arguments is to make a Will setting out who you want to take care of your children, in the event of your death. Of course, this clause will only take effect if, at the date of your death, you are the sole surviving person with parental responsibility.

For example, if a married couple made ‘mirror wills’ appointing a guardian, and then were both to die leaving children under the age of 18, then the guardianship clause in their Wills would come into effect. If the couple had separated and had both appointed different people as guardians in their respective Wills, then the situation would be more complicated. So, even where parents are no longer together, they should still be in agreement about who should look after their children in the event of their deaths.

When considering guardians it is, of course, vital to think about the best interests of the child, and what would cause the least disruption. Appointing someone who lives far away would cause significant upheaval. Appointing your own parents could be problematic if they are elderly or have health problems. It can be a very difficult decision and one which requires a lot of consideration. It is also important to make sure that whoever you decide to appoint is happy to act if necessary. It is, after all, a huge responsibility.

We are here to help. If you would like more information about any aspect of making a Will, please contact our Private Client team on tel: 01892 515022

This blog is not intended as legal advice that can be relied upon and CooperBurnett does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of its contents.

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October 14, 2020
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