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The importance of making a will

View profile for Sara Sheppard
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I often hear “I haven’t got any money to leave my kids so why should I bother?”.  My response is “You have kids?  If they are under 18, you definitely should have a Will to leave your kids to someone”.

As loving parents we all want to ensure that our children, our most precious assets, are looked after and it is particularly important that we appoint guardians for any child under the age of 18 years.  The best way to do this is by including the appointment of guardians in your Will.  A Will does not have to deal only with your monetary assets but it can also include wishes and directions for your executors about such things as your funeral, who you want to have your personal belongings such as jewellery, and of course who you wish to appoint as guardians for your children. 

Do not assume that without making such an appointment in your Will, your family members would be able to look after your children.  Without such an appointment your children could find there is no option but for them to be placed into care until it has been established who is the most suitable person to be appointed by the court as their legal guardian

Is it fair to your children for them to be separated from their family (and possibly from each other) at a time when they are grieving and when they are most likely to need the loving, stable atmosphere that only familiar faces can provide?

By appointing a guardian in your Will you can at least ensure that someone you trust to have your children’s best interests at heart will be looking after them.  When the time comes, if your chosen guardian finds they are not in a position to care for the children personally, they will at least have the ability to point someone else in their place, as legal guardian.

You may feel that if you do not have children or other family members then there is no point in making a Will.  That’s fine, as long as you realise what would happen in such a case.  Someone will need to deal with your estate when you are gone and who would this be?  It might be that the Official Solicitor would have to step in and try to locate distant family members who may be entitled under the intestacy rules.  These might be people you have never heard of let alone met.  The cost of having to search for potential family members can run into thousands of pounds which would have to be paid out of your estate assets.  If there is really no-one to whom your money could go, then it will end up going to the Crown (the government in effect) as “Bona Vacantia”.

You might want to consider whether it would be better to leave your estate to friends who have helped you over the years, or to charities that you have supported for a long time.  If so, making a Will is extremely important even when you have no children or immediate family, and something which every adult in the country should consider with their legal advisers, whether or not they feel they have much of an estate to be administered.

Contact – Sara Sheppard

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