Guest Post : Tips on Wills and Legacies for a busy Family

You don’t have to be a pessimist to make a Will. Just watching the news on TV or reading the daily newspaper is evidence enough about how fragile life is. Plus, when you have kids it makes sense to plan for the future because you never know what’s round the corner.

Most people don’t make a Will. In fact, according to The Law Society, only 36% of British adults had written a Will in 2014. Many of those people are under the impression that their possessions will automatically go to their family whether they make a Will or not. Whilst it’s true that your possessions will go to your nearest blood relative, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will go to the people closest to you.

Taking Care of Children

Have you thought about who will look after the children if you are no longer around? Under the law, children can’t inherit until they reach age 18 and, of course, they need someone to look after them until they’re old enough to look after themselves.

Most of us would like someone close to us to take over the role of parent, but the only way to make sure that’s the one you want is to set out the arrangements in your Will.

Its a plan you hope will never be called on, but it’s comforting to know it’s there all the same. By choosing legal guardians for the children, you can relax knowing they will be well cared for whatever the future brings. You can discuss it with your chosen guardian and with your partner, so everyone involved is thinking along the same lines.

As well as choosing legal guardians, your Will is the place to formalise any trust you may wish to set up to help children manage their inheritance when they finally come of age.

If they stand to inherit a sizeable amount, you may worry they won’t cope or will struggle to make sensible decisions. By setting up a trust and appointing trustees, you can help children manage their inheritance for as long into the future as you think will be necessary.

If you have stepchildren, making a Will is even more important because the law does not recognise them when it comes to inheritance. In order to leave them anything at all, you need to name them individually in your Will or they’ll be ignored.

Photo credit: Unicef, Malawi, Noorani

Photo credit : Unicef/Malawi/Noorani 

Ways to Write a Will

The first step is to draw up lists of everything you own, including:
  • Online investments
  • Bank accounts
  • Property
  • Life assurance
  • Social media accounts
  • Gaming characters
  • Intellectual property
  • Bitcoins
This is in addition to all your small, individual possessions such as books, photographs or collections of items. Armed with your lists, the next step is to decide what goes where and to whom. Having these facts to hand makes it easier to write your Will.
  • Choose a solicitor. Using a solicitor is preferable to any other method of Will writing. They know what needs to be included, how it should be worded, and can advise if you’ve missed anything or anyone out.
  • Use a DIY template. This is a risky route because, while is perfectly legal, it is very easy to make mistakes or miss things out because you weren’t aware of them.
  • Use a Will Writing Service. These are easy to find online but take care, because they’re unregulated. For the best protection, choose one that belongs to The Institute of Professional Will Writers. If you see the TSI approved logo on their website, you can trust they have agreed to provide good standards of service.

Remembering Charity

As well as providing for our own children, making a Will is also an opportunity to leave a legacy gift to a favourite charity, whether that a children’s charity or any other. For many charities, gifts left in Wills are a lifeline. It’s easy to leave a gift, you simply name them (including the charity number) and say what you are leaving.

It all sounds very serious, but really we should think of Will writing as just another part of parenting. It needn’t take too much time, yet the benefits last a lifetime and beyond.

This is a guest post kindly provided by Unicef Legacies.

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