Your will is a living document. It should develop with you as you progress through life. It should reflect and plan for the life stage you find yourself in. Every life stage has slightly different implications for writing your will. This is a blog series on writing your will for your particular life stage.
If you are single without a partner, single with a life partner or married without children, you can read the relevant posts by clicking the links. For a checklist on how to write your will in general, you can find that here.
This post is for anyone who is married with underage children. That is, children under the age of 18. This post will give you tips for writing your will in this life stage. This is not an exhaustive guide, however, to writing your will. Also, if this is you, we recommend reading the previous posts as well, because you might find value in some of those tips.
Writing a will when married with children
As a married parent with underage children, your children need to be your top priority in terms of writing your will. When writing your will for this life stage, you have to write it thinking worst case scenario. What is worst case scenario? Both of you die in a car accident. With this in mind, your will has to set out a detailed plan for your children’s maintenance and education.
The manner in which this is usually done is by means of a trust. There are two types of trusts. One, inter vivos (“between living people”) trusts are created while the parties are alive. And two, testamentary trusts are created by means of a will.
An inter vivos trust is a good option if you have substantial assets. It enables your assets to grow in value outside the bounds of your estate, which benefits your estate because less estate duty is payable upon your death. Do note, however, that the income retained in the inter vivos trust generally falls into a high tax bracket.
A testamentary trust will nominate a trustee to manage the assets and property of the trust to the benefit of your children. That trust will pay out to your children when they reach an age specified by the trust, but not before they reach the age of 21.
In terms of a testamentary trust, it is advisable to nominate at least three trustees. One of these trustees should be an independent person outside of the family, such as an attorney, accountant or trust company.
Another important provision to include in your will is to appoint a guardian to physically look after your children. If you fail to include such a provision in your will, you could cause unnecessary strife in the family if more than one person sees looking after your children as solely his or her responsibility.
If you require advice or assistance on any matter related to writing a will when married with children, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]. Also, be sure to subscribe to our blog!