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.
molli vandehey says
i dont really need to make a will because i own nothing, but i hope one day i will need to . thse are good tips.
Sue Mullaney says
This is very helpful information and a good way for parents to have peace of mind to ensure their children are provided for. Having a DPOA (durable power of attorney) would also be a good idea; in the case where a parent is still alive but incapacitated and can’t make decisions for themselves, then the DPOA can act on the parent’s behalf. Thanks for posting!
Stacey Freeland says
This is so important, I want my kids to get something good out of losing me. But I never want to leave my family & children I know it’s going to hurt them & that’s the last thing I want to do is to hurt the one’s I love.
This is very informative! I never knew about the executor.
Lu Worley says
This is very good advise. Even very young parents can die. Life offers no guarantees. Even if you own nothing, do you want your child/children raised in Foster care while relatives fight over who gets them?(or maybe nobody wants them.) Parents need to discuss this with the top three relatives (or friends)) they would want to raise their children if unable to do so themselves. Get a commitment from a couple of people(in case the couple’s circumstances change and can no longer keep their commitment). Death is hard enough on children and other loved ones. Parents need to make it as easy as possible on those left behind so the grief us not escalated.
Henn Nõgel says
The guardian and executor are the same in our family. Relatives whom we trust and know they’ll take good care of children.
Kim Holliday says
This was very helpful information. TY ????
Sarah L says
Very good points. Everyone needs a will, but especially parents.
This is great advice. When I was a child my father died, unexpectedly, and it was a scramble to figure out who would be our guardian. Everyone wanted to ensure they “gave” us to whomever my dad would have wanted. However, without a will, it was all speculation. It all worked out for the best, but it would have been much easier and less feelings getting hurt, if there had been directions made up beforehand.
Dorothy Boucher says
I think this is so important for any parent to do, I even tell my daughters to do this for there children, Get a will ,, because you just never know in today’s society, or even later in life, its so important ..
Thanks for the tips and the reminder – I really need to make a will! And I love the plain and easy to understand language used in this blog. Thanks again!
Dorothy Hubbard says
I have a living will, but every parent needs to put a will in place as soon as possible for the childrens sake. Always think the best but antisapate the worst.
These are great tips. I think it’s a good idea for all parents to have a living will in place. Thank you for sharing this post.
Lisa Coomer Queen says
There is a lot of great information here. Everybody needs a will. These tips are great. You need to know what all needs to be in one. Thanks!
I know everyone should have a will. We have the forms to fill out but they need to be signed by two other people which is ridiculous.
Sarah L says
It’s important for EVERYONE to have a will.
RANDY FULGHAM says
this is a very good idea..
Wow, thank you for this. Very informative.
Judy Bradley says
Last year my 44yr young daughter passed away from cervical cancer. She left behind a 6yr old daughter and an 8yr old son. They always talked of a will to determine guardianship of the kids, but like most of us, we don’t plan on dying young. It seems like such a distant, abstract thing, death does. There are many personal problems involved now if the father should die and he has a family history of heart trouble and he is in his mid-fifties. I urge any of you parents to take the important step of ensuring your little ones will be safe and raised in the manner you want if anything should happen to you. The unexpected does happen.
Holden Humphreys says
Thanks for this. I need to get moving on a will.
Sally Gearhart says
This definitely gave me some things to think about! My experiences with death & what happens next has been very negative so it’s been on my mind alot. I don’t have much either but I sure don’t want there to be any confusion on what me & my husband would want! Thank you soo much for sharing this, it really helped me! 🙂
Clay Cassin says
Not something one wants to think about, but this is very good information. Thank you.
Sonya Cocherell says
This is about the most important thing that parents can do. It would just kill me if Gracie ended up in foster care.
Kristin K says
I have a will. I don’t have any children, and am not expecting to have any. However, these are a lot of great tips for making out a will! Every responsible parent should have one!!!
Crystal Mckinley says
I really need to do this! I never think of it.
Sarah Kurtz says
This is something I definitely need to do. These are great tips. Thank you for sharing.
denise smith says
that is great info thanks for sharing
Deanne Patterson says
Not something I want to think about but it is very good information.
Ronald Gagnon says
very helpful information but very few young parents even consider this when the child is so young
KATE SARSFIELD says
This is so important even if you think you have no material assets to leave behind. A will ensures that your child will be brought up by people you trust.
sarah alexis says
Seriously though…. I say this over and over again… I REALLY NEED TO MAKE A WILL!!!!! LIKE REALLY… thanks for the reminder… again. OMG, I need to kick my butt into gear.
Karen Jaras says
Even if you think you own nothing, you would be surprised what you family will fight over in your absence. Get it all in writing because even the smallest things need to be accounted for so your spouse/children will have peace.
Children or not, please make a will, a living will, POA, etc. I used Quicken Will Maker and loved it! If you have pets, who is going to care for them? Do people know your wishes regarding funeral wishes or if you want to be cremated or not? Do you want to be kept on life support?
Making your wishes known is so important and having paperwork in place eases some of the stress in a traumatic time.
I don’t have children but I think it is extremely important to have a will regardless of your parenting status. If you have assets that you want to go to nieces and nephews or even close friends, you need to have those wishes written down so that what you wanted will go through. It can also ease the strain for your loved ones who you left behind.
Sue Mullaney says
It’s been in all the news about how Prince didn’t have a will when he died and now his sister and his other half-siblings are battling over his estate (not to mention who knows how many people will be coming out of the woodwork claiming to be Prince’s child!). I agree that it’s definitely important for non-parents to make a will as well as parents. Thanks for this helpful post!
Debbie Welchert says
Thanks for all of the wonderful tips. The nursing home that my mom was in helped us make up a will for my mother which helped her and us so much….
Renee Rousseau says
Thanks for the great tips on a subject that is so easy to procrastinate on! Reminder and educator!
Rita M says
My husband and I have a will, but our daughter & son-in-law do not. I will pass this info on to them as they now have a five year old daughter to consider. Thank you.