I vividly recall the first time my “baby” (4 years old) brought up the subject of death. We were driving in the car and he suddenly said, “Mummy, I don’t want to die”, and started to cry. It was a heart-breaking moment for me and I found it difficult to keep it together myself. Especially when his next words were, “… and I don’t want you and Daddy to die.”
The reality is, this is something we all have to face. How you deal with it with your own children is a decision only you can make. Below is some advice from a practical viewpoint on how you can make this process smoother and less stressful for your children.
It’s selfish to not have a will
Everyone over the age of 18 years should have a will. I’ll go so far as to say it’s selfish on your children and your family to not have a will in place. I fully understand that a lot of people put this off just due to the very nature of what it is. But the fact remains, we are all going to die, and should all leave our affairs in the best possible order. Without a will, this usually creates a time-consuming, stressful, not to mention more expensive, time for your family in administering your estate.
Your will is a mechanism to ensure that your wishes are met and carried out with regard to your property and your children. It will leave your children with a degree of certainty and, if you die with infant children (under the age of 18), you can rest easy knowing that you have appointed a guardian to best look out for their rights.
What you need to consider in a will
So, you’ve made the best decision for your children and you are going to make a will. Here are some of the points you need to consider –
- Who to appoint as your executor(s) – these are the people responsible for proving your will in court (called applying for probate – a paper based process, rarely requiring a court appearance) and then administering your estate pursuant to your will. You want your executors to be trusted people in your life.
- Guardianship – if you have infant children (under the age of 18 years) you will need to appoint a guardian in your place to make day-to-day decisions on behalf of your infant children. Guardianship does not equate with custody, however your guardians will work with your family to make decisions as to where your children are best-placed to live.
- Do you have specific funeral/burial instructions? You may express a wish in your will as to how you wish your funeral to be conducted and whether you wish to be buried or cremated.
- Do you have specific gifts you may wish to make of personal or sentimental value? Examples include cash gifts, gifts of jewellery, gifts of items that have been passed down the generations of your family.
- Who do you want to receive the balance of your estate? What happens if that person is already deceased or dies at the same time as you (e.g. in a car accident)? You need to make additional provision for what will happen in such a situation (called a gift-over). Usually your estate would be left to your partner/spouse with a gift-over to your children in the event your partner/spouse died before you or at the same time as you.
These are some of the issues you need to consider. Of course, you can add into your will other clauses that are important to you. No two wills need ever be the same.
This article was written by Tania Richards LL.B, BCom, Director at Restieaux Richards.
Tania is pleased to offer a basic will for $150 + GST each for Kidspot followers and readers until 30th April 2018. Please get in contact via email – firstname.lastname@example.org – if you (and/or your partner) wish to take up this offer. If you have any questions, Tania is happy to answer these via email.