Do You Have a Will? A Natural Consideration When Becoming a Father
When it comes to the prospect of a new life, the last thing on your mind is a gloomy topic like making a will. Yet becoming a new parent brings with it a host of responsibilities, not the least of which is deciding who would obtain custody of your child in the event that something should happen to both you and your partner.
Becoming a dad does not only mean putting money away for university or moving to an area with good schools; it also has legal implications. The law dictates that you should explicitly state who would become your children’s legal guardian if you and your spouse were unable to care for them.
Providing for your kids also means considering every possible eventuality, however unpleasant this is to contemplate. There are two key reasons for thinking about this issue and having your wishes drawn up and certified. The first purpose of having your wishes legally recognised is to ensure that your children are well provided for after you have gone, and the second is to solidify who will benefit from your assets and estate.
Many people may not realise that in the UK, the laws governing ‘intestate’ estates, or the assets of people who have no will, are such that your estate could go to unexpected recipients. Potential default recipients include the state instead of a surviving spouse or partner. This is particularly important if you are not married.
It is therefore worth drawing up a will to prevent such problems once you know of your impending fatherhood. To do so, you must be over 18, of sound mind, and able to make decisions about your affairs without undue pressure from a third party. Your will must be in writing and signed by two independent witnesses who must not be named beneficiaries
Because every couple’s financial and family circumstances are different, it is usually worth going to see a solicitor. He or she can advise you on each item to consider and put the necessary steps in place to ensure that your child will be looked after.
Although many people worry about the costs involved, consulting a solicitor is not as expensive as you might think. A legal consultation is particularly recommended if your circumstances are less then straightforward. Examples of complex situations include not being a UK citizen, not being married to your current partner, or having an ex-spouse or children from a previous relationship. A solicitor will also be able to advise you on potential future scenarios. These include saving loved ones from paying excess inheritance tax, setting up a trust that can be used to fund your children’s education, or planning for the care of a disabled child.
Of course, there are other ways of drawing up a will. You can consult a will-writing service or buy a standard pre-written template from a stationers or specialist shop. You may also be entitled to free legal advice through your bank or trade union, so if you are pressed for cash with baby on the way, this may be an option worth investigating.