You’ve got it all. You’re in your late 30s, approaching the big 40, married with a nice four-bed detached house in a leafy suburb.
You have a flash car on the drive and a job all your friends are jealous of. The icing on the cake is your beautiful children. Life is great.
But life can be cruel. And tragedy can hit us at any time. ‘Let’s not go to bed on an argument, I could be hit by a bus tomorrow’, you tell your other half.
The next day, your kids are at school and you’re about to drop your partner off at work.
Then a drunk driver hits your car head-on. Two parents dead in a split second.
This is a harrowing, worse-case scenario which none of us ever think will happen to us.
But what if it did? Who’s going to look after your children now?
So get guardianship in your Will. Many people assume that if both parents died before their children, the legal responsibility falls on the godparents, if the child is under 18.
If you have children or family, when you bought your first house with a mortgage on it you may have taken life insurance out.
If one of you died, the mortgage would be paid off. Then the person who is left behind can still live in the property.
The importance of protection
But what you will also have taken out is buildings and contents insurance. Because for the first time in your life you’ve got something of value. Naturally, you want to protect it.
So if your house fell off the hill, buildings insurance would put it back on the hill again. If you’re burgled or your house burns down, the contents are replaced.
But with all that nice protection in place, what happens if mum and dad died suddenly? What’s in place to express your wishes on your most valuable asset – your children?
The law is very clear – if the parents are both out of the equation, a family court decides what happens to the children.
Do they go to the wife’s mum and dad or to the husband’s parents? One large custody battle ensues, and the children are stuck in the middle of a legal battle, or called to court in extreme cases.
The majority of 30 to 49 year olds have a child from their marriage or previous relationship, and generally the children are under 18 years old.
And that’s why, if you’re between 30 and 50 years old, you should have a Will written. Then you can name the guardians of your children. A basic Will gives you the power to express these wishes.
What are your wishes?
Just as you take out insurance policies, write a Will – a basic Will expressing your wishes. Do you want your children to be cared for by the mother’s parents, the father’s parents, uncles or aunts?
So address guardianship in your Will. Your wishes will be implemented by the family court.
Obviously you hope it’s not something you’d think would ever happen to you – but what if it did?.