Recently, a report sent chills down the spine of every probate solicitor in the UK. It revealed that 70% of people in The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland do not currently have a will prepared. Just think about that for a moment: 7 out of 10 people have no legal representation for their estate after they pass away – a move that will cause an unbelievable amount of stress and frustration for the family left to deal with the mess after you’re gone.
Now we know, it is always hard considering your own mortality. Unfortunately, however, everybody dies. It is foolish and irresponsible to shirk this responsibility, a responsibility that is more relevant to single mothers than most other Britons today. If you’re a will-less single mother, then, here’s why one is so important.
Now the obvious problem in not preparing a will is the lack of explicit instructions regarding the guardianship of your child when you’re gone. Lacking this direction will create a web of complications for your child, especially in the case that the remaining parent has also passed away. In this case, it would likely be the case that the child would be put into care for an indeterminable period of time while they work out the next most appropriate guardian. This can be a surprisingly lengthy process, and although you can formally agree with friends/family who will ‘inherit’ your children after you’re gone, the cogs of liturgy in the UK move at a snails pace. And a very slow snail at that.
Another thing to consider on the subject of guardianship is the child’s father. Who are they, what are they like, are they a suitable role model for your child? If not, you may not like the next warning: In most cases, the child’s father will be appointed to look after the child automatically in the case of your death, until they reach 18. This includes all financial, health and educational responsibility, as well as the management of any funds that you may have left your child at your passing. Therefore, if the child’s father is not someone you would want bringing up your child, it is incredibly crucial that you appoint a guardian in your will.
Another reason why single mothers should seriously consider setting up a will is just how your finances will be treated in the case of death. Dying without a will will mean one thing: Your children inherit everything, divided up equally amongst them in the case of more than one. Now that doesn’t sound too bad, right? All of your children seem to get a piece of the pie. The problem with this, however, is that it should be ensured that there is at least some money that will go to the direct upbringing of the children. For example, if you have 3 children, all aged between 1 and 5, your entire estate will be handed over to them, only to be kept in special savings accounts (or investment accounts in the case of larger amounts), until the children reach 18. Therefore, your family – the people left with the financial problem of raising your children – will be awarded nothing. They will not only have to cover the funeral costs (of which can be surprisingly high), but they will also have to support their new children. Therefore, it would be wise to make certain financial considerations and ensure that, if possible, there is something available to support your chosen guardians in their new living situation.
Of course, it is possible for the child’s guardians(s) to pursue financial help. They can even go to court to have some of your estate released to them to cover expenses. As with any legal process, though, this will take an excruciatingly long time and will result in even more outgoings to cover the legal fees.
- Power of Attorney
The final consideration every single mother should make on the subject of wills is the ever-valuable Power of Attorney. This simple measure will legally appoint a person to represent the interests of both your family and yourself in the case that you are no longer able to do so. While this has obvious benefits in the case of death, granting someone Lasting Powers of Attorney means that if you were to become unable to make decisions yourself – whether due to illness, an accident or otherwise – there is someone who will be legally representing the best interest of both you and your children.
Failure to prepare this before hand will result in a legal nightmare for those closest to you with the only way for someone to then take control of the situation would be to apply for Lasting Powers of Attorney at the Court of Protection. Unfortunately, however, this process will take substantial time and will cost hundreds, if not thousands of pounds to pursue.
Therefore, as you can see, failure to prepare a last will and testament before passing away can create more than just a bureaucratic headache for those you have left behind. It will leave heavy emotional and financial burdens on the upbringing of your children, and leave an uneasy future for all those closest to you. A simple way to avoid this is to just draft your Will while you still have the capacity to do so. And, costing as little as £10 for DIY packs or around £85 for official services, there really is no excuse. Coles Probate Services can provide you more information and discuss the individualities of your situation in detail.
We would hope, then, that this article has given you something to think about; encouraging you to draft your Last Will and Testament as soon as possible.