Guardianship and choosing an executor

In this newsletter there’s important information for any parent, plus advice on choosing an executor. If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised please call me on 0121 445 5874 or email sue@nullsuejendenassociates.co.uk.

The forgotten reason to make a Will

Everyone needs a Will, in my opinion, but for parents there is one compelling and often forgotten reason: to ensure their children are cared for, in line with their wishes, should they no longer be available to do so themselves.

As part of the process of writing a Will for a parent any Will Writer will always explore how the parent(s) would like their children cared for in the event of their death and encourage them to appoint guardians.

Why do you need to appoint a guardian?

The issue of guardianship is especially important in our modern multi-layered families and for parents who are not married. In the worst case scenario a father may not automatically be able to continue caring for his child, for example.

The law allows you to appoint guardians who will raise your children if there is no surviving parent to care for them. You can do this easily in your Will. If however parents do not appoint a guardian the decision about who should care for their children will be made by the courts.

Appointing a guardian

It is a big responsibility to become a guardian for a child, so it’s important to think carefully about who you would want to do it, and check with them that they are happy to take on the role. It’s worthwhile thinking about the potential guardian’s family situation, work commitments, location and, of course their relationship with your child or children. You may decide to appoint more than one guardian. Whatever your decision they should always act in the best interests of the child. And, as with anything in your Will you can review and change your decision at any time.

When to appoint a guardian

In my view you should be doing this as soon as your first child arrives and it makes sense to review your decision, however informally, with each year that passes.

As a parent, would you leave you children for an hour, a week or a month without knowing who was taking care of them? I thought not. By appointing a guardian you are taking a similar decision, but for perhaps a much longer period of time.

It’s frightening to read that only 21% of parents with children at home have a Will (National Consumer Council Report 2007). If this article has made you think again about appointing guardians for your children, or you’d like me to speak to a family member about this topic please contact me.

Estate Planning Fiction vs. Facts

Fiction

Fact

A Will covers all my assets. Wills do not cover assets held as joint tenants (usually your home) and jointly held savings on the death of the first co-owner, retirement plans, life insurance, pension monies payable on death, trust assets or transfer on death nominations.
If I have a good Will, probate will not be required, and my assets can be transferred immediately to the beneficiaries of the Will. All Wills are subject to the probate process. The length of time to complete a Probate depends on how complex your affairs are and can take six to eighteen months, on average.
If I lose the ability to manage my property and affairs my next of kin can look after everything for me. Unless you have authorised them as your attorneys by putting in place a Lasting or Enduring power of attorney your assets will be frozen.
I don’t need a Will , I don’t have much to leave and it will go to my family anyway. If you don’t have a Will the intestacy laws dictate where your assets go and who will administer your estate. These laws may mean your assets are not distributed to people you want to have them.

Surprising but true

67% of people do not know where their parents Wills are kept.

Tips from the experts

Choosing an executor

When preparing your Will you’ll be asked to consider who you would like to be executors. It’s a question that is worthy of some thought and consideration. I suggest you:

  1. Discuss the role with the person you are thinking of appointing
  2. Think carefully before appointing a beneficiary as an executor, it can get complicated
  3. Make it clear how much involvement you would like them to have, for example you might be happy for them to delegate the main tasks to a professional executor (solicitor, accountant) and have their costs met by your estate, this might help a friend or family member agree to be an executor when they realise their role is limited
  4. Consider appointing a ‘professional executor’ as an executor alongside your other executors.

 

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