If you were to pass away suddenly, what would happen to your kids? This is a scenario no parent wants to think about, but preparing for it could spare your family a great deal of stress, uncertainty, and even conflict, as they navigate their new reality without you.
Preparing a Will is the only way to provide certainty over your children’s future, and is one of the most important tasks you can do as a parent. Yet, for a staggering 57% of Australian parents, the task has simply been pushed aside and put in the too hard basket.
Here we discuss what actually happens to your children if you pass away without a Will.
The Courts decide who looks after your kids
Many people mistakenly believe that if they die, their children would automatically be put under the care of a relative, close friend or a godparent. However, unless you have a Will setting out your wishes, the question of who takes guardianship over your children is left entirely up to the court.
When left up to the courts, anyone can make an application to become the guardian for your child - irrespective of whether you would have chosen them as guardian yourself. This can take weeks or even months to finalise, and is an extremely disruptive process for a child, during what is already a devastating situation.
By making your wishes clear in your Will, it removes any doubt on the issue and alleviates the possibility of disputes arising. While initially unpleasant, it may be the most liberating and empowering act you take as a parent, knowing that no matter what happens to you, your child is in the best hands possible.
Your kids don’t automatically inherit your estate
Without a Will, the administration of your estate is completely governed by the state’s intestacy laws, rather than you making this choice. Intestacy laws provide a list of priority for people who are eligible to inherit your estate - this means that the government will be determining who receives the benefits of your life's work, rather than you.
This may result in entirely unforeseen and unwanted circumstances, as someone with a 'legal claim' to your estate may not have been the person that you would have chosen to inherit. This is one of the leading reasons for intestacy causing legal conflict, as family members argue over who actually has the proper claim to an estate.
On top of this, the process of sorting out your estate if you die without a Will is lengthy, stressful and costly. In some cases, it may even result in your children being locked out of the estate until the process is sorted out in Court. This can be avoided almost entirely by writing your Will and securing your children's future in writing.
Your Will is the simplest, but most effective way, to secure your children’s future and ensure they are protected if something unexpected were to occur.
You can write your bespoke Will and appoint guardians for your children in minutes with Safewill. If you would like to write your Will today, you can get started here, or if you have already created an account you can log back in here.