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Parents and wills: planning for your child’s future

Adapting to the busy life of a parent isn’t easy and settling into a routine takes a little time, even if you’re not new to parenting.

With so much to consider you may not have even thought about making a will, but it is an important responsibility that you have to your child. So set a little time aside to plan for your child’s future in the event that you are not here to care them.

Things parents need to consider:

Appointing guardians

Who would you want to appoint as guardians if you and your partner were to die? The appointment of a guardian is only the expression of a wish. Therefore, any decisions about where your children live and who is to look after them will always be made in accordance with the children’s best interests.

Whoever you appoint will acquire parental responsibility for your child until they reach 18, so discuss it with them and make sure they can handle the responsibility. You can nominate more than one person so it would be wise to also nominate a substitute.

Appropriate age to inherit

At what age would you want your child to inherit? You can choose whatever age you feel appropriate. If there isn’t a will they will automatically inherit at 18.

Also consider who you would want to take care of your child’s inheritance until they were old enough to manage it themselves. Bear in mind this person will have control of your child’s finances so make sure you trust them to safeguard your children’s assets, which could be property as well as money. It’s a good idea to nominate at least two people just in case one of them can no longer take on the role when the time comes.

Children with special needs

If your child has special needs you will want to ensure that any money they inherit does not affect any benefits and the inheritance is protected if the child is vulnerable.

Stepchildren or foster children

If you have stepchildren or foster children you will need to specifically include them in your will as they are not automatically covered.

Family finances

Think about how the expense of bringing up your child will be met – is your estate likely to cover this?

Life insurance and pensions

While these can be included, they  may not automatically pass to your children under the terms of your will – it is advisable to  contact each provider and nominate your child as a beneficiary.

Next steps

Once you are happy with all your decisions, contact a professional will writer who will help you to put everything together so that your plan for your child’s future is secure.

Reviewing your will

Things change and sometimes even the best laid plans come unstuck. If there is a major change in your life make sure this is reflected by updating your will.

In any event, you should review your will every 5 years or so to check that it still meets your needs. This will also give you the chance to reassess your original choices and make sure that the people you nominated are still suitable for the roles.

Remember – if you remarry or enter into a civil partnership any existing will is automatically revoked, so you will need to write a new one.

Need more details?

If you would like more information, or simply a chat about your options, contact our friendly team on 01302 320621 or email






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Dealing with the estate of someone presumed dead

One of the most famous people to go missing in the UK is Lord Lucan. Despite numerous claims of his sighting since 1974, his whereabouts, nor indeed whether he is still alive remains a mystery.

This doesn’t mean, however, that his family hasn’t been able to deal with his property. The Presumption of Death Act 2013 came into force on 1st October 2014, since when it has been easier to obtain a presumption of death certificate and thereafter a declaration of presumed death from the High Court. This declaration is needed in order to deal with the missing person’s property, but that person has to have been missing for seven years or more.

If, however, someone goes missing during a natural disaster, an order can be passed from the country that the missing person is from so that the family does not have to wait for seven years. For example, if the relatives of those who were involved in the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia could prove that their relative was in Sumatra and was later not found, it would not have been necessary for them to have waited for the full seven years.

A person entitled to make a claim for a declaration of presumed death can be the missing person’s spouse or civil partner, parent, child or sibling. If none of these apply, the person claiming would have to prove to the court that they have enough of a connection to the missing person.

Author: Rachel Towle

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Wills and trusts expert joins Atherton Godfrey

We are delighted to announce that Katy Burgin, Wills and trusts expert has joined Atherton Godfrey.

Prior to joining us, Katy worked for a Sheffield company that provides trust, estate and financial advice.

Katy also has experience of working for the local authority and the Probation Service.

Since qualifying as a solicitor Katy has specialised in private client work and has extensive experience of estate administration, including estates subject to Inheritance Tax. She also offers tailored advice in respect of lasting powers of attorney, trusts and Court of Protection work.

Senior partner, Don Bird commented on the appointment: “We are very pleased to welcome Katy to the team.

Katy brings with her a wealth of specialist experience that will complement and enhance the service that we provide in this highly complex area of law.”