Parental Rights and Responsibilities
Parents have several legal rights and responsibilities towards their child, such as the responsibility to protect and promote the health, development and well-being of the child, the right to maintain a relationship with the child and to act as the legal representative of the child.
A family can start and grow in many ways, including adoption, surrogacy, and assisted reproduction. It is important to understand your rights and responsibilities and the circumstances in which these may not be granted to you automatically. Getting legal advice early on is important.
Do you have a will in place and, if so, does it need to be updated? Having a well-structured will allows you to:
Make sure you have the right executors in place to handle the legal process in the event of your death. Put in place appropriate fiduciary arrangements to protect the money of young or vulnerable beneficiaries. In Scotland, children are considered to have legal capacity at the age of 16 and would be entitled to any inheritance at that age in the absence of trust provisions. It is a very young age to inherit even modest sums. Appoint guardians for your children, if something happens to you while they are still young. If you name a guardian in your will and they accept the position after your death, they will acquire the same parental rights and responsibilities as a parent. Minimize inheritance tax that may apply upon your death, ensuring that sufficient funds are available to care for your children and that they can continue to live in the family home, should they arise.
Understand who has an automatic claim to a share of your estate through legal rights. You should review your will regularly to ensure that it continues to reflect your wishes and personal circumstances.
A power of attorney allows you to choose who should make decisions about your finances, health and well-being if you were unable to do so yourself for any reason, such as due to illness or accident . In the absence of a power of attorney, it is important to remember that your spouse does not have the right to take care of your finances. This could put the children at risk if the money is not accessible and may mean that your family must ask a court to appoint a guardian. This is a long and expensive process which means you don’t control who is appointed.
A parent’s right to make decisions on behalf of their child ends when the child turns 16. If your child has complex needs and you want to be able to continue to support their decision-making, you should seek advice before they turn 16. birthday, whether it will be possible for your child to grant power of attorney in your favour, or whether it might be necessary to ask the court to be appointed as your child’s financial and/or social guardian.
Starting a family is a good time to undertake a financial review. This will allow you to determine if you need life insurance, how you could save for your children’s future education costs, and what income protection would be appropriate to keep your finances secure if you were unable to work. for some reason.
School fees and grandchildren’s tuition fees
When you become a grandparent, you may be thinking about your own long-term estate tax planning and whether you can help your children with the costs of raising the next generation. Setting up a trust can be a very tax-efficient way of providing a fund to help cover education costs, but specialist advice should be sought to ensure that any trust is appropriately structured.
Starting a family is the start of a new normal, but don’t forget to add “legally preparing for the future” to your to-do list.
Eilidh Adams is Private Client Partner, Gillespie Macandrew