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So what happens to orphaned children if the deceased parents left no will :-(?

(15 Posts)
PacificDogwood Mon 15-Nov-10 17:28:05

Dh and I have no will. Which we are aware is a Very Bad Thing, legally speaking. We have been talking about it repeatedly over the years and always stumble at the same problem: what to do with our 4 DCs if both of us were no more. Otherwise our will seems to me is as simple as can be: if he dies, I get everything; if I die, he gets everything; if we both die, the kids get everything. Or their guardian - and herein lies the crux: neither of us have the family who could take on 4 children (currently all under 8). Do we split them up (my heart breaks sad)? The 2 younger ones together and the 2 older ones together?? How on earth do we ask what relatives we have whether they would be prepared to take 1/2/3/4 DCs on??
What would happen if there is no will? Would they automcatically go into care? Foster care? Care home?

Are there any lawyers or social workers about who could give my some information to help us focus our minds. Hopefully we won't ever need this info, but I'd really rather make a plan and not need it, than otherwise... And no, I am not morbid at all, DH and I enjoy good health and between us there is not much to divy up grin. Apart from pleny of offspring...hmm.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated, TIA smile.

CarGirl Mon 15-Nov-10 17:30:17

Well we don't have any family to take them on either, I have 2 friends who are appointed guardians. I have been very clear that I want them to be there in the short term and are to ensure that they are part of their lives in the long term but they don't have to take them on themselves so to speak..........

jonicomelately Mon 15-Nov-10 17:32:52

If there is no family to look after them they would have to be placed into the care system. How they would be divided would then be a matter for social services. Perhaps there would be a lovely family who would be happy to take on four lovely children smile

VivaLeBeaver Mon 15-Nov-10 17:32:52

I think you need to talk to relatives or close friends. See which of them would be happy to have them and how many of them in the unlikely event.

AMumInScotland Mon 15-Nov-10 17:33:10

I think that, whether or not you've written a will, social services would look at whether there were any family able/willing to take responsibility. Even if you write a will, it can become out of date, eg grandparents who were happy to take on the responsibility have had bad health and can't manage any more. So the will isn't 100% binding, just a statement of what you hope/plan/expect.

But its better to have one than not, as it simplifies things. If you don't think it through now, and something does happen, then someone else will have to deal with it when you're gone.

InaraSerra Mon 15-Nov-10 17:34:39

It doesn't have to be relatives, it could be friends. Whilst people may not be wild about taking on 4 children, you might find that in the circumstances people would be more willing, rather than see them being split up. Do you have decent life insurance to help with the costs of bringing them up as that will make a difference too.

The ideal is to identify someone who would take all 4 of them, but if not then I think you would have to write a "letter of wishes" and say what your preferences would be, and ask that your Executors do the best they can.

I have no legal or social work background though.

ilovesprouts Mon 15-Nov-10 17:37:27

if anything happens to me and dh my dd will look after my son

PacificDogwood Mon 15-Nov-10 17:42:15

Thank you for all your fast responses.

joni, hm, yes they might be prepared to take on 4 lovely children, but my monsters?? I am not sure, I'd have them if they weren't mine IYKWIM wink...

Ok, so a will would only be a statement of intent, yes? Not legally binding? Part of the problem is that DH does not really have any family (his mum is 82) and his siblings live hundreds of miles away. My family is abroad. Most of our good friends seem to have single children (by choice), so I hesitate to ask them about more than one of ours.

They would get split up, wouldn't they? sad <<vows to eat more healthily, do more exercise and drive more slowly>>

CarGirl Mon 15-Nov-10 18:09:07

You don't know that. As children for adoption they have plus points - they haven't been abused, neglected, taken into care. They have had a wonderful loving start to life and have siblings, share bonds etc etc they would probably be an adoption success.

VivaLeBeaver Mon 15-Nov-10 19:30:16

Me and DH live hundreds miles away from his sister and don't see her often but if anything happened to her and her DH we'd have the kids no problem. Though going from only having one kid to having 3 would be difficult, space wise, money wise, etc but we'd do it. They're family.

VivaLeBeaver Mon 15-Nov-10 19:30:38

You may find your DH's siblings feel the same.

Alouiseg Mon 15-Nov-10 19:35:19

You can write a will through your bank, they can then act as executor and store the will.

If you have any life policies make sure they are "in trust" so that they pay out to the children without hmrc taking their cut first.

fridayschild Mon 15-Nov-10 22:14:48

Don't under-estimate your friends - ask! My parents were named as guardians for some friends' kids, just in case. It would have been enormously disruptive for all of us had the friends died, but I don't think my parents worried about that.

The other possibility would be to make a will which did not appoint guardians. That would at least make the financial side easier to deal with, while a home for the DCs is found. A cop-out, obviously, but if the worst comes to the worst it will be better than no will at all.

What will you say to the DCs when they ask you? For example, if you are reading Harry Potter. Mine are 6 and 7, and they wanted to know. Luckily they like my brother because he gives them apple juice without asking me if they should have water, and spends too much on their birthday presents hmm

marlowwills Tue 16-Nov-10 12:40:43

You don't necessarily have to appoint guardians in your wills. Most people do, but if you don't, at least you can express your wishes about how your estate is distributed, when the children inherit (there are tax implications if they inherit later than 18), etc.

As someone has already said, appointment of a guardian is not binding, and so if the guardian wasn't able to look after your children, or if a third party wanted to have them, then either social services would get involved, or the third party would apply under the Children Act for a residence order.

I'm a professional will writer (and long standing Mumsnetter) and have written a lot of wills for Mumsnetters. If you want more info, my email address is I've been practicing for over twenty years but now partly freelance, so my charges are around half of the usual High Street fees.

PacificDogwood Tue 16-Nov-10 13:45:34

Thanks again for everybody's replies smile.

marlow, I will have to sit DH down and get him to Commit to making a will hmm, but thanks for the offer. I'd get in touch as needed.

friday, so far my older boys (aged 7 and 6 as well) have not asked - and I have no idea how I'd answer. Particularly DS1 would freak at the tought that we could not be around sad - he struggles with finding dead bees in the garden... I had been thinking about using HP to talk about loss etc.

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