Research published this week by the organisation Solicitors for the Elderly finds that 70% of UK parents have no plans for the care of their children in the event of their deaths. It should serve as a reminder for parents with children to revisit and update their wills, says Olivia Meekin a Partner and member of the Private Client team.
New research from Solicitors for the Elderly published to mark its annual Update Your Will awareness week, reports families are ill-prepared for the deaths of mum and dad and do not understand what will happen to their children should illness or an accident result in their early death.
The research finds that 70% of UK parents have no plans for the care of their children in the event of their deaths, and just two out of every 10 parents understand that social services or the courts decide what happens to children if no will is in place.
It is understandable that many of us do not wish to address the worst possible future where children are left without both parents, but it is vitally important to set out your wishes for their future care through your will.
In the devastating circumstances where both parents die before children reach the age of 18 and no will exists or is out of date, the courts will take responsibility for their care until a guardian is appointed.
Parents often wrongly believe that grandparents, aunts, uncles or even godparents naturally become guardians. Whilst the courts may decide they might be the most appropriate guardians, that is not always guaranteed. The Courts will consider what is in the best interests of the children, taking into account their education and activities, meaning a move to a different part of the country may not be the best outcome.
Where a will exists and where parents have named guardians for their children, the courts will in most instances follow those wishes.
The research from Solicitors for the Elderly carried out by Censusworldwide in December 2022 also finds:
- That 56% of UK adults have updated their will within the last five years, meaning around a half of UK wills are out of date.
- Half of UK adults have experienced a life-changing event, such as getting married, divorced or having a child, since they last updated their will.
- One-fifth of UK adults know someone who has been affected by something going wrong with a will.
How often should you update your will?
It is not uncommon for individuals to believe that once a will has been created there is no need to worry. But a will should not be considered static. Just as personal circumstances change, so should your will.
We recommend that a will is updated at least every five years or when significant changes happen in your life. That might include the arrival of children, divorce or death, the sale of a business or relocating overseas. Despite what many believe, marriage invalidates any previous wills, meaning that recently married couples will want to revisit and create a new one.
Creating or updating a will is a straightforward and inexpensive way to ensure that your estate is shared in a way you wish and that the future care of your children is decided by you.
Contact our Private Client Solicitors
If you are in need of advice or assistance on any of the legal issues mentioned in this article please contact any member of our experienced Private Client team Nicholas Barlow, Olivia Meekin, or Helen Langworthy on 020 7631 4141 or or email firstname.lastname@example.org Our Private Client Team will be glad to deal with any queries you might have.
This note is for guidance only and has been prepared in accordance with current legislation and procedures in force at the time of publication.
The above is correct as at 26 January 2023. The information above may be subject to change.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.