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Do we need a will?

(15 Posts)
Pippaandpolly Sat 11-Jun-11 18:54:55

First-timer here, bear with me...

DH and I are expecting our first child in September. Through extremely fortunate circumstances, my job provides us with a flat. We have a car (old banger!) and some savings although not much. We've never got round to joint accounts so have a savings account and bank account each. We both signed various forms at work so that we'd benefit from each other's pensions in case of death.

If one of us were to die would the other automatically inherit everything? e.g. the car is in my name because I bought it before we were married. (Not that that's much?!) Do we need a will to specify that the other should inherit? And do we need a will to specify who we'd want to be the baby's guardian should we both die, or is that done differently? We feel that making a will is something we're supposed to do, as responsible parents, but equally we don't know what would go in it while we don't own a house or, really, have any assets.

marmajam Sat 11-Jun-11 20:14:12

Yes, I think if a person dies intestate (without having made a will) their spouse inherits everything up to a certain amount (think amount is 250k) under the rules of intestacy. Which run: surviving spouse, child/ren, parents.

You do literally mean 'dh'? and not 'dp' because cohabitees do not count under rules of intestacy (although there is another route by which they may have a claim. Only may).

Nevertheless, I think you should still get wills made- as you can explicitly state what you want to happen in event of death.

Parietal Sat 11-Jun-11 20:17:56

Yes, you should have a will. If you die without one, you leave 10x as much work for those left. A lawyer can tell you what goes in it.

Alicadabra Sat 11-Jun-11 20:31:52

Your DH won't necessarily get everything if you die intestate - your parents and siblings may also be eligible, depending how much your 'estate' is. You can find a summary of what would happen at direct.gov.

You'd also need to think about what happened if - heaven forbid - you both died together. Who do you want to have responsibility for your DC? At what age would you want your DC to have access to their own money?

Personally, I'd always advise someone to make a will/update their will when they have kids (or get married/any other major life change). Quite apart from anything else it forces you to think about some possible difficult situations and agree on what you'd want - without the pressure of actually being in the unpleasant situation at the time (if that makes sense?)

(BTW, no I'm not a lawyer - though my dad is, so that may colour my views slightly! wink)

shelscrape Sun 12-Jun-11 07:38:26

Always always have a will! If you are having a child together you need a will if only to deal with confirmation of leaving property to each other and providing a guardianship clause for your child in the event that you both die. If you or your DH are members of trade unions, you can often get a free/ cut price will service through them.

IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN ALWAYS HAVE A WILL

Pippaandpolly Sun 12-Jun-11 08:40:36

Thanks everyone - that's useful advice, particularly about the guardianship clause. Will get on it!

mumblechum1 Sun 12-Jun-11 13:26:23

Hi P&P,

It would be sensible to make a will in order to appoint a guardian to look after your child/ren if you die before they're 18, and also remember that although you may not have much now, as the years pass you are likely to build up some capital, you may have death in service benefits, life insurance etc and you could easily end up with more than the spouses exemption.

I'm a will writer and have an advert in the Small Business section of Mumsent Classified if you'd like more info.

BiggestPiggyOnTheFarm Mon 13-Jun-11 13:46:21

I did my will recently with the Co-Op, it was ten times easier than I thought it was going to be and much cheaper than any local solicitors quoted, they were so good. www.co-operative.coop/legalservices/will-writing/

We said what we wanted to happen with the guardianship of our DS's and named them and also said words to the effect of 'and any further children of DH and I' so that the will won't need updating if we end up having more. That way our will shouldn't need updating at all really, unless we have a change of circumstances like divorce or death.
The other thing we were advised to do was to name a first and second choice of guardianship for the children, in case your first choice is unable/unwilling to take the children at that time.

tiggersreturn Mon 13-Jun-11 14:37:55

Yes - particularly for the guardian issue. You can buy willpacks for £10 from whsmith/post office which will cover the basics.

mumblechum1 Mon 13-Jun-11 14:54:40

I know I'm biaised as I'm a will writer, but you need to be very careful about using Smith's will packs. You really need advice on a range of issues including the importance of not naming executors to act also as guardians, how the guardians will be reimbursed, inheritance tax planning, what to do if one of your children has a disability, there's a lot to think about.

tiggersreturn Mon 13-Jun-11 16:13:15

Mumblechums do you want to explain a bit more about why a guardian can't also be an executor? I agree not the sole one but would be interested to know the basis of that comment.

Pippaandpolly Mon 13-Jun-11 16:22:43

mumblchum1 'how the guardians will be reimbursed' - oh dear, we have to think about life insurance too, don't we!? I feel like I'm getting a crash course in how to be a grown up. This summer is going to be spent getting ALL of this sorted out!!

mumblechum1 Mon 13-Jun-11 20:10:11

The reason that you should appoint separate Guardians from Execs is that the Execs will act also as Trustees of the Trust until the children are 18,21,25 or whenever.

So the idea is that every six or twelve months, the Guardians will ask the Execs if they can have £x from the trust to cover the children's expenses, and only if the Execs consider the reimbursements to be reasonable will the money be released. Alternatively, if the trust is in a simple fund like a bank account, the execs and guardians can agree a monthly direct debit to the guardians, and review it once a year or so.

Typical example of what can happen when you appoint the same person to do both jobs is where the Guardian thinks it would be lovely to take your child on holiday to Florida. Along with themselves, their spouse and their three children, and takes money for all six out of the trust fund. If you have separate execs, they'd realise this was not in the best interest of your child and only release enough for your child's expenses.

You can use the same person as Guardian and exec so long as the other exec is not likely to be pressured by them. So you may appoint your sister to be both exec and guardian, but the other exec will be no relation to your sis, maybe your dh's brother or best friend, so as to bring an element of "arms length" in dealing with the trust.

P&P, do you or your husband have death in service benefits? If you literally have no money at all to cover your dc/s expenses, then yes, life insurance would be a good idea.

vj32 Wed 15-Jun-11 18:19:44

Get a will with a decent solicitor ASAP. From personal experience I can tell you its not great to be thinking about these things at 39 weeks pregnant!

mumblechum1 Wed 15-Jun-11 18:27:44

Or with an extremely good will writing firm with excellent references wink

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