Wills for Mums by Solicitor Rebecca Dawe

Death is a taboo subject, but the parents of young children cannot afford to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to something as important as making a Will. What if you died unexpectedly, leaving your children behind? One of the most crucial things that you can do to safeguard your family’s future is to take control of what would happen in this situation by making a Will.

What if I die without a Will?

Your estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. This may not be what you would want. For example, if you are married, contrary to popular belief, all of your assets will not automatically pass to your spouse. If you are not married, your partner will have no automatic right to receive anything at all from your estate. Your children will automatically inherit their entitlement at age 18, whereas you may prefer to delay this until they are older and more mature.

What should my Will include?

It will record how you want your assets to be divided, whether your beneficiaries will receive the assets outright or in trust, and at what age they will inherit. You can appoint guardians, who will be responsible for taking care of your minor children if you and your spouse/partner were to die. (You should check that whoever you appoint is happy to take this on!). You will also appoint executors, who will be in charge of winding up your estate.

Other issues for mums

Unmarried mums

If you and your partner are not married and you want to provide for each other, it is essential that you make Wills, because he will have no automatic right to receive any of your assets on death. If you died, he would need to apply to court for an award from your estate, which is an expensive and uncertain process.

Married Mums

Marriage revokes a Will, so if you have got married since you last made a Will, you will need to make a new one as soon as possible. Many women are concerned that if they died, their husband would form a new relationship and their assets might end up passing to his new wife and second family. This problem can be prevented by using a trust in your Will giving your husband a right to use your assets for life, but ensuring that your capital is safeguarded for your children.

Separated Mums

If you and your husband have separated, your wishes about who should receive your assets on death are likely to have changed. Until you divorce (i.e. you receive your decree absolute), despite the fact that you are no longer together, your husband can still benefit either under your Will or on intestacy. It is very important for you to update your Will if you wish to prevent this.

Divorced Mums

Divorce does not revoke your Will, but it does automatically revoke any provision in it in favour of your ex-husband. Nonetheless, if you are now divorced, you should check that your Will still reflects your wishes.

Remarried Mums

Providing for two families is complicated. A trust can be used to ensure that a fair balance is maintained between your family members. With careful use of flexible trusts, you may also be able to make inheritance tax free provision for your children.

THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Dawe, Associate Solicitor, Collyer Bristow LLP offers a fixed-price Will writing service. We charge £1,000 – £1,400 + VAT to make a Will for one person, and £1,400 – £1,800 + VAT to make Wills for a couple, depending on complexity. If you would like to make a new Will, please contact Rebecca Dawe. Tel: 020 7468 7337 – Collyer Bristow LLP, 4 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4TF.

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