Parents-to-be reminded to put will on pre-birth checklist
Packing the hospital bag, preparing the nursery and choosing a name are tasks any parents-to-be will be familiar with but lawyers are reminding mums and dads to add writing a will to the list of things to do before baby arrives.
A key life event such as having a baby should be a catalyst for drafting a will to avoid costly issues arising later on.
Sarah O’Grady, senior associate in the commercial and private client litigation team said: “We have seen cases where parents have a will in place before having children and then don’t update it upon their birth – and if their estate does not go to the surviving parent then they are effectively leaving their children with no inheritance.
“Or there are the cases where no will has been made and therefore the law of intestacy is applied. Where the parents are not married the estate will be split between any children but it does leave room for other family members to raise a dispute which can be costly and time consuming to resolve. It also means that the deceased’s wishes aren’t made clear.
“I would really urge parents-to-be to include writing a will on the baby checklist; get it done before your baby arrives so that you don’t need to worry about it later on.”
Sarah recalls a recent case which highlights the importance of parents keeping an up-to-date will. The deceased had made a will quite some years ago before he had any children, leaving his estate to family members. He sadly died in a plane crash, leaving behind two young children. He was not married to either of the children’s mothers.
Sarah explained: “Following his death, the children’s mothers found themselves having to bring claims for their children against the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, in order to secure financial provision for their children’s futures. The claims are likely to be successful but their values need to be determined and it could be that the two claims compete with each other, depending on the assets in the estate and the financial needs of the two children.
“The deceased’s testamentary wishes at the time of his death were not known. He supported his children financially to a certain extent but the level of provision he would have wanted to make for them, and whether he would have still wanted his other family members to benefit from his estate, is unknown.
“Even though this matter is relatively amicable there have still been major costs incurred in resolving the situation, by comparison with which the cost of updating a will after having children pales into insignificance.
“It’s really important when growing your family to think about how they will be protected in the future. Leaving no will or an out-of-date will can ultimately cost your loved ones money and cause a lot of stress during what is already an emotional time after someone’s death. Writing a will is simple, affordable and gives great peace of mind.”
The #GoodWill campaign aims to encourage people to pledge that they will make a will this year and asks people to take steps to safeguard their family’s future wealth.
We are aiming to assist people looking into making a will by developing a free, online ‘Which Will?’ tool that prompts the user to think about what is important to them when making a will and recommends which will best meets their needs.