When you’ve got kids, you’ll do anything to look out for them. Yet our latest Family Finances Report shows many of us haven’t made plans to protect our children if we weren’t around any more – partly because it’s uncomfortable to think about.
The good news is there are some simple steps you can take to help protect them – from broaching the subject with your partner to making a will. Here are five things to put on your family protection ‘to do’ list:
1. Start talking about it
In our study, almost two in three people said they feel death is a taboo subject. Many also said they don’t want to talk about it because they just want to enjoy living their life.
It’s perfectly understandable why people prefer to avoid some topics of conversation, but if we can’t talk about something, it’s impossible to plan for. So to get the ball rolling, pick a time and place when you won’t be disturbed, and discuss things with your partner and/or immediate family.
Once you start seeing making these plans as an unavoidable part of life planning, it becomes less of an emotional and more of a practical task.
2. Choose a legal guardian
Surprisingly, our research shows more parents have a donor card than a formal, written-down plan of who’d look after their kids if they weren’t around any more. That’s why appointing a legal guardian is something quite a number of us ought to consider.
Put simply, a legal guardian is someone you can appoint who will take care of your child or children if there’s no-one else with parental responsibility to look after them. It can be anyone over 18-years-old, so a family member or a close friend who has a connection with your children could be a good choice.
While – thankfully – it’s unlikely that they’ll ever be needed, choosing a guardian really is a must-do. If you don’t appoint one and both parents die, your child or children could end up in foster care while the courts appoint a guardian of their choosing.
3. Make a will
When you’ve discussed your plans and chosen a guardian, the appointment needs to be made official.
One of the best ways of doing this is to make a will, where you can also say what you’d like to happen to your money, property and possessions when you die (otherwise known as your ‘estate’).
If you die without a will, the law decides who gets what, and it may not be the people you’d have wanted. A will can also help reduce the amount of inheritance tax that may be payable on the value of the money and property you leave behind – potentially leaving more for your children to benefit from.
4. Consider life insurance
Another way of helping to protect your children (and giving yourself some peace of mind) can be to take out a life insurance policy – as four in 10 UK families have done.
In the same way that home insurance covers your property, life insurance covers you, and pays out if you die while you have the plan. This means that if the worst ever did happen, your family may be able to use the money to pay for everyday bills and other expenses – helping them to maintain the lifestyle they currently have.
If you’re unsure how much life cover you’d need, our easy-to-use life insurance calculator can help. What’s more, Aviva will also give you £15,000 of Free Parent Life Cover for one year if you have a child under four-years-old.
5. Get help from an expert if you need it
When it comes to making the sorts of plans we’ve mentioned above, the help of an expert can be invaluable.
For example, a solicitor or specialist service can help you write your will – and may be cheaper than you’d think. According to the Money Advice Service, using a solicitor usually costs between £150 and £300, while a specialist will writing service will typically set you back around £75 to £150.
A financial adviser may also be worth speaking to, especially if you’d like to set up a life insurance policy ‘in trust’ – which essentially allows you to choose who you’d want to benefit from the money. For details of financial advisers near you, visit unbiased.co.uk.
Taking steps like these can be a common sense part of life planning. And once you’ve done so, you can get back to enjoying the here and now of being a parent. If you’d like to know more about life insurance, visit our Life insurance pages.