Who will look after my children?

April 2, 2015 10:55 am

Who will look after my children?

No one likes to think about what will happen to their children if they die or are unable to continue looking after them. However, it is an important question which should be tackled at the earliest possible time to make sure that arrangements are in place.

If you have children under the age of eighteen, you can make provision in your will for the appointment of a legal guardian in the event of the death of both parents, if you are or have been married or, if not, the death of yourself if you are the mother. If you do not do so, the court will decide who will look after them in the event of a dispute and your children may be placed in the care of the local authority pending a decision. The guardian can also be appointed to look after the financial assets left to your children until they are old enough to manage the funds themselves.

If you die without leaving a will, the law will govern who receives your assets. If you are married or in a civil partnership, your spouse or civil partner will receive your personal items and the first £250,000 of your estate as well as a life interest in half of the rest of your estate. Your children will therefore only receive the other half of the remainder at age 18 or upon marriage (if earlier) and the rest of the remainder after the death of your spouse/civil partner. This may not follow your wishes, particularly if you are separated from your spouse/civil partner. It is therefore essential to make a will to avoid this and also to leave any gift to stepchildren who have not been legally adopted. Similarly, if you marry, any will made prior to the marriage will be invalid.

Even when your children are grown up, you will still have concerns for their wellbeing. If you enter into a Lasting Power of Attorney appointing your children to look after your finances and/or personal welfare, your children will be able to make decisions for you, if you lose your mental capacity. This avoids the freezing of Bank accounts and the long, expensive process of applying to the Court of Protection to be appointed as a deputy.

It is therefore important that you make a will as soon as you have children and that you ensure that it is kept up to date following changes in your finances or family life. In later life, ensure that you have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place. Once these somewhat difficult issues have been tackled, you will have peace of mind knowing that you have secured the future of your children as much as possible.

 

Please feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss this matter further:

Telephone us on 01522 687500 or email enquiries@pagenelson.co.uk