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Why every parent should have a will

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Less than half of all adults have a will, and the number drops even more for parents with young children, yet it is the one legal document every parent should have.

The most compelling reason for a parent to have a will is to be able to nominate a guardian for your children in the event of your death. Courts usually award custody to the surviving parent, but parents—especially single ones—must consider what will happen if their children are orphaned.

It is vital that you make your preference known. Without it, the court won't know about your decision, and your dreaded in-laws may come in and take your children and raise them in a way you never wanted them raised.

In addition to naming a guardian for your children, you will need to appoint executors, trusted people who will administer your estate according to the terms of your will. You will also need to name the beneficiaries who will inherit assets or personal possessions from your estate.

If you die without a will, archaic intestacy rules dictate how your property will be distributed. Most people assume their spouse will inherit the entire estate, even if no will exists. Whilst this is often the case for lower value estates, if the assets of the deceased are larger, then the rules distribute part of an estate to the surviving spouse and divide the rest among the children.

Most people choose to leave all of their assets to their spouse, with their children inheriting any remaining assets after the spouse's death. You should also consider establishing a trust for your minor children so that an adult can manage their inheritance until they reach an age to manage their inheritance for themselves.

If you have any questions about the appointment of guardians, making a will, or the use of trusts to protect children’s inheritances and would like to make an appointment to discuss your options then then please contact Talbots Law on 0800 118 1500.