Making a Will is essential to ensuring that your children would be properly provided for and protected should anything happen to you. This is not only your opportunity to set out the financial provisions but also to appoint a Guardian who would be responsible for your child’s welfare should you not be around to do that yourself.
The appointment of Guardians is undoubtedly one of the most important points which parents with young children need to consider. This might be a family member or a friend and can be more than one person. Along with the other points in your Will, this should be reviewed on a regular basis, as your family’s circumstances change.
You might also wish to include some more detailed guidance for the Guardian to set out your wishes for your child’s future upbringing and education and this can all be documented alongside your Will. In your Will, you can set out the extent to which your children will inherit from your estate, and when. A straightforward trust should be included which sets out the age at which you would envisage your children becoming entitled to their inheritance although this can be flexible to allow payments to be made before that age, to assist with ongoing costs including the cost of your children’s education.
If you don’t have a Will or if the Will doesn’t specify the age at which you wish for your children to inherit, the law in Scotland says that they become entitled to their inheritance at 16 which, in the majority of cases, is unlikely to be appropriate. As well as reviewing Wills, as young parents, you should also consider putting in place Powers of Attorney which cover your lifetime affairs. These are invaluable should there be an accident leaving you unable to manage your own affairs, even for a temporary period. It is also a good time to look at your financial position and review your pension, life cover and longer term savings strategy.
If you have young children, please do take a moment to consider whether these things are all in order. Whether you need to have a Will drawn up for the first time, or need to review existing arrangements, this is unlikely to be a complicated process. It is important to take legal advice to ensure your loved ones would be properly protected should anything happen to you. This will then allow you to get back to the busy task of bringing up your family, hopefully with an easier mind knowing your legal affairs are all in order.