Writing a Will as a Parent

By Melissa Broad, Contributing Writer.

Obviously, it’s not pleasant to think about death, however, having a will is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the protection of your dependants in the event of your death.

 

Here are some reasons why you should create a will as a parent: 

  • You can name a guardian for any minor children.

  • To state how you want your assets distributed after you die (house, jewelry, car, clothing)

  • If you so choose, you can carry out a trust. This will allow you to control when your assets are passed down to your children. For example, you can see to it that their inheritance funds are allocated as you see fit throughout your child’s life if you don’t want them to receive the funds at once.

  • To name an executor – the person who will administer your will when you die. They are responsible for fulfilling your requests, ensure taxes and debts are paid and that property is distributed to beneficiaries. 

 

If you are a new parent, it would be wise to write up your will as soon as possible after the birth of your child. It is also a good idea to keep updating it if you decide to have more children or in the event of a major life change (death of a spouse, divorce, marriage). 

 

Choosing a guardian for your minor children

When appointing a legal guardian for your children, it is a big decision considering they will have full custody of your child if you pass away. Make sure it’s someone you trust to raise your children in the same way that you would like them to be raised. You might want to think about factors such as parenting style, values, where they live, religion, financial capability and physical ability.

 

If you are a same-sex couple, ensure you have a ‘second parent adoption, meaning both parents have legal custody of their partner’s children (adopted or biological) in the event of their partner’s death.

 

Some think a guardian is always the closest family member, however, this is not always true. It is up to you to determine who will bring up your children if you are unable to do so.

 

Don’t allow any external opinions influence your decision – they are your children, after all and there is naturally a particular way in which you wish for them to be raised. 

 

A guardian is an adult who has legal authority to take care of your child should you die before the child reaches the age of 18. The guardian of the child has custody, while the person who manages the child’s estate/assets is called the guardian of the estate. You may select this to be the same person or separate people.

 

If one of the child’s natural parent’s is still living, they will be given custody of the child. However, in some cases this might not be the best scenario of the child if the surviving spouse has a history of things like drug or alcohol abuse, or a criminal record. If this is the case, you should ensure you document the circumstances and give a copy to your executor. Make your concerns clear that it is for the protection of your child. 

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