For those you leave behind…
The subject of this post is a difficult one. I apologise now if it makes readers upset, but I need to ask you a question.
Have YOU made allowance in your will for who will gain legal guardianship of your children should both you and your partner die?
Facing one’s own mortality is challenging. The thought of writing down in a legal document how your stuff is carved up when you die is enough to make you shove the idea back into the darkest, furthest recesses of your brain. If your back burner had a back burner, that’s where the idea would go.
If you have a young family the thought of dying and leaving them behind is even harder to contemplate.
When our two boys were toddlers we faced the unimaginable and visited a solicitor. This was because a work colleague told me if both Her Up North and myself were to die leaving both children orphans there would be no automatic right to guardianship by family members. I was astonished. I assumed some nearest kin would take over. Instead, we found out, children often have to be placed in temporary care until suitable guardians are found IF there are no instructions left in a will.
Needless to say, we were on the blower to our solicitor next day.
This was some years ago, but the subject came up last week. At the time, we entrusted our children to Her Up North’s parents should the worst happen. We discussed it with them and they were happy (if that’s the right word) to be so entrusted. Now however, they are older. My father in law will be 70 next birthday. We are wondering if we should reevaluate our wishes and the needs of our children in the event of catastrophe.
Everything is such a delicate subject. All what-ifs. Also, now our boys are eleven and nine do we ask their opinion? What if one says one thing and the other says different? We do know our original plan won’t be viable for ever. Moppet has nine years before he is 18 (the age up to which children need guardians) – and we have to do the rather morbid maths.
This entire subject got me thinking. How many parents of under-18s have made arrangements for their children’s care should the worst happen? Of course, no one expects to shuffle off at such an early stage in their lives and trying to appoint “new parents” for when you die is possibly the worst way to spend your time. But failing to leave instructions could mean the decisions are made by strangers.
It is unarguable that wills are important regardless of your family’s age. The consequences of dying intestate (as Her Up North’s grandparents did) are grief on top of grief. But I honestly think if you have a young family you owe it to them to sort their futures from every angle. For those you leave behind, the consequences of inaction could be dire.
I took a straw poll on Twitter last night and I’m putting it up here too. If you responded last night please vote again. I’m interested how much this issue is on the parental radar. Many thanks.