There is lots of excitement about the birth of baby boy Cambridge and the world's media has gone mad for news of and how the new family might be getting on.
Like all new parents, I'm sure they will have lots of changes and challenges, but we wondered what they might need to think about from a legal perspective (when they get a chance obviously!).
The birth of a child, whether a first child or not, should automatically lead to a review of the parents’ Wills. If a parent does not have a Will in place they should remedy this as soon as possible as not only is the Will the document in which the parent determines what their child will inherit, it is also the document by which the parents can determine who should be the child’s guardian should something happen to them.
While some matters may not be of great concern to the parents of the third in line to the throne, for others the arrival of children will undoubtedly lead to discussions about other matters, including saving for college or university fees, making arrangements to enable them to be able to assist with the purchase of a first home and perhaps most importantly planning to ensure that any assets passing to children do so in a tax-efficient manner.
Below is a list to get you started, when looking at updating your affairs after the birth of any child, Royal or otherwise!
In Scotland, the main legal consideration for new parents is to think about who might look after their child, if anything happens to them. It is possible to appoint a guardian in your Will, and that person could be a family member or friend. It is possible to appoint more than one guardian. This can be quite a difficult decision to make, and you can change this and update it as your child gets older. A lot of people want to chat this through with their chosen guardian, and that is probably sensible, just to make sure they would be happy to do this for you.
- Update your Will
Similar to the first point, you should make sure that your Will provides for your children, as you would wish. This might be to simply name them as potential beneficiaries, but it might also include a provision to make sure that their inheritance would be held for them until they reach a particular age. If you don't provide for a later age, the default in Scotland is aged 16, and there aren't many people who are comfortable with their children receiving larger sums of money at such a young age.
- Review your death-in-service nomination
You might still be happy that your spouse or partner receives any death-in-service benefit through your employment, but there is some tax planning which can be done in this area, which helps protect your children's inheritance in the longer term.
- Review your pension planning
Similar to the third point, you can carry out some tax planning around your personal pension arrangements, again to benefit your children in the longer term but whilst still protecting your spouse or partner.
- Think about a savings plan
Having children is not a cheap exercise, and your hopes for the future might now involve providing a capital sum in the future. Possibly school fees are on the horizon, or maybe longer term planning for tertiary education and helping children onto the property ladder. We know that this is an expensive time of life and you might not think that you can achieve this sort of thing, but the earlier you start planning, the more likely you can achieve your goals.
- Review your life insurance
You have a new dependant now, and you should think about what they might need, if anything were to happen to either parent. Don't forget that insurance can help to replace lost earnings, but also lost care, if anything were to happen to the main carer.
This is just a list of some of the top priorities, there are many more considerations depending on your own personal situation. Amid sleepless nights and all the unsolicited advice that is invariably thrown at you over the coming weeks, you would be forgiven for not considering the legal complications a priority. However, their importance shouldn't be underestimated. Besides, the sooner you get it done, the sooner you can get back to enjoying your little bundle of joy, and rest easy. Figuratively speaking, of course!