Making a Will as a Single Parent

12 November 2018

If you're a single parent then making a Will could be one of the most important things you do when planning for your children's future. Without a Will, you will have no control over who will look after your children in the event of your death. Furthermore, you will also have no say on what they will inherit from your Estate or who would look after their inheritance until they're old enough to receive it.

This means that your children may not be provided for in the way you would have wanted. We look at some of the key points to consider when making a Will as a single parent.

Who Will Look After Your Children?

As a parent, you will of course want the best for your children. It's likely that you'll have strong opinions on how you would like them to be educated and where they should live, for example. But if you're not around, how can you know that they will continue to be cared for in the way that you would have wanted?

If you have sole custody of your children, an important factor to consider is who should take on this responsibility in the event of your death. In some cases, the other parent may be in a position to take on full time custody of the children, however this may not always be the case. If the other parent isn't around, or it's not possible or appropriate for the children to go into their care, then you'll need to think about who else might be able to step in and look after them if needed.

This is where your Will comes in. You can name guardians in your Will along with backup guardians if the first named are unable to take on this role for any reason. This means that in the event of your death, the right people would be able to step in straight away to protect and care for your children.

Without a Will, this decision would be in the hands of other people, potentially leaving your children in a state of limbo while a decision is reached. And they could be placed into the care of someone that you wouldn't have chosen yourself.

Your Children's Inheritance

Of course, you'll also want to ensure that your children are provided for in the event of your death. Without a Will, inheritance laws called the Rules of Intestacy will determine who is entitled to inherit what from you. This means that you will have no say on how your Estate is distributed, and this may not be done in the way that you would have wanted.

My making a Will, you can state exactly who you would like to receive what from you. This means that you know your children will be provided for in the way that you want.

Trusts and Trustees

If your children are under the age of 18, then another important point to consider is who should be responsible for looking after their inheritance until they're old enough to receive it. When making a Will, you can choose the age that you would want your children to receive their inheritance and appoint people to act as Trustees to keep this money safe until the children reach that age. The trustees' responsibilities might also include providing an allowance to your children's guardians to cover their care costs, or to pay their school fees, for example.

Are You Still Married to Your Ex?

If you're still married to your ex then it's even more important for you to make a Will. If you die without a Will in place when you're separated but still married, the law will recognise your spouse as being automatically entitled to inherit from you regardless of whether you have separated.

Under the Rules of Intestacy, if the value of your Estate falls below £250,000, then your spouse will be entitled to everything! If your Estate is worth more than £250,000 then your spouse would be entitled to your personal possessions and the first £250k of your estate and then 50% of anything over this, with the other 50% then being divided equally between your children.

To put this in context, this means that if everything you own in your estate is valued at £270,000 and you're still legally married to your estranged spouse, they would receive the first £250,000, then 50% of the remaining £20,000, so £260,000 in total. If you had 2 children, then they would then share the remaining £10,000 equally between them, meaning that they would each only receive £5,000 of your £270,000 Estate, with your ex getting the rest!

So, even if you're in the process of getting a divorce, it's really important to make a Will setting out exactly how you want your Estate to be distributed. Once you have made your Will, make sure that you also familiarise yourself with what happens to your Will after divorce, as your ex will be removed as a Beneficiary, Trustee and/or Executor, which may not be in line with your wishes.

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