Tips for Parents Who Need to Create a Will
When you become a parent, there is always a long checklist of things to think about, often while coping with a sleep-addled brain that’s not functioning at its best due to a lack of rest! From getting baby to sleep and eat properly, to making sure they’re safe at all times, learning what each cry means, and how to change their nappy when they’re wriggling around like a worm, there are plenty of areas to navigate as a new parent.
However, while you’re typically always flat-out exhausted once a baby comes along, you need to make sure that you don’t neglect some legal tasks. Having up-to-date and comprehensive wills in place is essential for all people, but in particular for parents.
After all, if something happened and your children needed to go to another home, the last thing you’d want is your family fighting about who would take them, or even worse, the youngsters ending up in foster care. If you don’t currently have a will finalized, read on for some tips you can follow to get one organized as soon as possible.
Choose a Lawyer to Advise You or Utilize Online Websites
If you’re expecting your first child or are a brand-new parent and don’t yet have a will (or a current one that takes your parental status into account), it’s time to start thinking about what you want to happen if you pass away.
A properly-written and comprehensive will not only name your choice of guardian for your child/children in the event that you and the other parent dies, but also ensures that your estate is distributed efficiently and as easily as possible for the beneficiaries.
You can create a will using one of the various online websites which make the process quick and easy. Typically these sites have software programs that can take your inputted information and create a will using their standard template. This choice is generally a much cheaper option, as you don’t have to pay for one-on-one legal fees.
Alternatively, you may find it easiest to hire a lawyer to advise you on the process, particularly if you’re unclear on exactly what details you need to include in order to cover all bases. An attorney who specializes in family law can help you draw up a will, or potentially even suggest other types of end-of-life documents (such as a living trust) if your estate is quite considerable and/or complex. It may also pay to enlist the services of your accountant or a financial planner to ensure that the way you set your document up helps to minimize taxes and other fees on your estate.
Decide Who to Name as Guardian
Typically, one of the hardest things about creating a will when you have children is deciding who you will nominate as their caretaker should something happen to you and their other parent. This is a big decision and takes time, so make sure you don’t try to rush into a choice — take into consideration all the potential candidates and weigh up the options closely.
Remember, if you die without having named a guardian, a court will appoint one in your place. Unfortunately, this might end up being someone who you would never want raising your children, or that just isn’t your preferred option. As well, family members may contest the decision and much additional heartache may ensue for both your kids and other people close to you.
When selecting a potential future carer, remember that you don’t necessarily have to pick your closest relative. You can choose any relation you like, or a friend who you believe will be the best fit for the role. You can also name an alternative person as carer in your will, just in case your first choice passes away or is otherwise unable to take on the responsibility.
No matter who you decide to choose, it’s important that you speak to that person (or couple) before you actually draw up the paperwork. Being someone’s guardian is a large and often long-time responsibility, and even though you think someone would make a good caretaker, they may not be willing or able to agree.
Specify an Executor
Another important aspect of your will is deciding who will be its executor. This person will manage whatever money and other assets you leave to your children, before they’re old enough to look after it themselves, as well as handle the dealings with any part of your estate that you might choose to leave to other people or to not-for-profit organizations.
Sometimes the chosen guardian becomes the executor, but quite often people like to select a different person for this role. The choice is entirely up to you, and really depends on who you trust most, and who you believe has the money management and other skills to handle the finances adequately.