You would think with having a brother who is a lawyer, I would have gotten a will sorted by now. Especially considering he has sent me the forms multiple times! Well, our new partnership with Fidelity Life has got me thinking about these essential aspects of parenthood that often get brushed aside. I spoke with ‘Lawyer-brother’ about three key areas where we need to be prepared for the future, for the benefit of our partners, families and kids.
1: Get a Will
Why? The key reason many of us will know of for wills is leaving instructions for any property we may own. Lawyer-brother gave me a little more detail. Firstly, if you own a house or property or if you have kids, you need a will. In simplest terms, most couples will leave ‘everything to each other’ and then leave it to be passed on to their children in turn. But, did you know that the official hierarchy for this is different if you don’t have a will? If you die without writing a will, only one third of your property automatically goes to your partner. The remaining two thirds goes to your children. This I didn’t know.
You also appoint an executor – your partner, a family member or friend – jointly or in succession, to be the person in charge of ‘administering’ your will and making sure everything happens as it should.
When it comes to getting divorced, married or remarried, you need to make sure you update your will. For second marriages or mixed families, things can get a bit more specific.
2: Appoint a Guardian
This is another areas of wills where there is a bit of confusion about what it actually means. People often ask, isn’t it just the same as Godparents? Well, yes… kind of, maybe a little bit similar, but actually it’s a wee bit / a quite a lot different. Where Godparents are the people who are charged with providing spiritual guidance for your children with no legal rights, the ‘Testamentary guardian’ you appoint in your will is the one who will have the say about the big decisions in your child’s life.
It doesn’t mean that this is the person who has responsibility for the day to day care of the child. Rather, it is the person who has the say over where and by whom the child will be cared for. The guardian can also apply to the family court for a day to day care order. The executor is able to make money available to the guardian to pay for this day to day care as needed. Often, the executor and guardian are the same person.
Also, it pays to realise that you can appoint a testamentary guardian to act in your place alongside your partner or co-parent in those big decisions. It doesn’t just apply to situations where there are no living parents remaining.
3: Life Insurance – a Legal Perspective
The main questions you need to ask yourself when looking at Life insurance from this legal perspective are these:
- What will happen with paying for the mortgage?
- How will you provide for your children?
Fidelity Life are offering Parents Centre members a limited time deal on Life and Critical Illness cover – see our May/Jun 2017 members newsletter for details! If you’re a member and have opted to not receive our email newsletter, drop us an email on [email protected]
and we’ll send you a copy.
The Undomesticated Goddess
*** Note: Please speak to your financial advisor to get the best advice for your situation! ***