Dad with daughter

What happens to my children if I die without making a will?

If you die without a will, anything you own and any liabilities become subject to “intestacy” – which basically means the Government decides what happens to everything, not your closest relatives.

While many people now understand the importance of a will, do-it-yourself documents have become popular, but you should be wary of how you complete these. Common errors in will-writing can cause problems after you die. For example, if you name a child as “Lizzie” because that’s what you call her, and her birth certificate says “Elizabeth”, you have an idenfication problem.

Likewise, if you don’t keep your will up to date, certain things may become invalid. For example, if you bequeath an asset in your will to a son or daughter, and you later sell it, they do not inherit the cash you received for it. They will get nothing.

Parents should be especially wary of not making a will because there is the question of what happens to the children – more so if both parents tragically die together.

Children under 18 (minors) may be taken into temporary foster care whilst Social Services appoint guardians, this may take some months and the guardians appointed may not be the ones you would have chosen.

They are your children, and if you die without making proper provision for the appointment of a guardian for any children you have who are under the age of 18, they could be brought up by people you consider to be totally unsuitable.

If you are their only surviving parent the children could even be taken into care and the family split up. You cannot even rely upon your spouse or partner to care for them; he or she could still die in the same accident, or even still die of an illness while the children are still under the age of 18.

By writing a will you can ensure that you nominate a legal guardian to be appointed. You are then in control of who you would like to be responsible for the upbringing of your children in the event of your death.

This article was written for us by NWT Wills.

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