February 3, 2021
The popular understanding is that Wills are the legal documents that tell your loved ones what to do with your property when you die. However it is important to note that as a parent you may also use a Will to address other issues that are important to you, such as designating a guardian for your minor child.
Writing a Will allows you to ensure that you have a comprehensive plan in place for your child’s well-being and security.
For the majority of parents, there will be very little about your parenthood journey that’ll cause you to have to actively contemplate not being around for your children. There’s something about all the beautiful moments, the laughter and joy that permeates the shared spaces of parent and child that makes it particularly difficult to imagine not always being around to protect and care for them.
An alarming 83% of Jamaican parents don't have a Will.±
This might explain why over 83% of Jamaican parents who were surveyed in 2021 do not have a valid will. We may presume that the difficulty of thinking about a time when you may not be around is partly responsible for the low number of persons who’ve made Wills. We like to think of it as a profound act of loving care and selflessness when you push back at the feeling of unease and prepare yourself in a way that protects the ones you love.
So if you have children here are two reasons why it’s important for you to make a Will today.
The ability to designate the guardian of your child is a strong and most likely the #1 reason for parents to make a valid Will. Should there be no Will in place and a parent dies and the child’s other parent is not alive nor fit to act as their guardian, then Jamaica’s Courts will have to make their own determination as to who is best suited to take care of that child.
This is an entirely avoidable circumstance that can take significant emotional turmoil and strain on the child and remaining family members that are now subject to the processes of the Court. Outcomes of these procedures may also result in guardianship being designated to individuals that you would not have wanted for your child, since anyone (within reason) can make an application to be your child’s guardian.
You may already know which of your close friends and family members would do all in their power to provide the best quality of life for your child in your absence. By having a valid Will you are able to make a clear pronouncement as to who you want this person to be. You are also able to begin having these meaningful conversations with the individuals that you will choose to act as your child’s guardian, which is an important part of the planning process that making a Will provides the opportunity for.
Along with naming guardians you may also use your Will to indicate how your child will be cared for financially.
While Jamaica’s Intestates’ Estate and Property Charges Act provides a framework for surviving children of a parent who has died without a Will (intestate) to benefit from the deceased's estate, it is the Office of the Administrator General that has to step in to administer this estate. This is certainly not the most ideal, efficient or cost-effective option to rely on for the securing of your child’s financial future. You might think you are being a proactive and thoughtful parent by having savings accounts, insurance plans and other financial instruments that you intend for your child’s education and welfare, however, if these accounts exist without an estate planning document, such as a Will to ensure that these assets are distributed according to your intended purposes, they may be accessed by or shared among parties that have an entitlement to your estate other than your child, such as a spouse or surviving parent. Especially in the case of minor children, whose interests have to be held in trust until they become 18 years old, there is just too much that is being left up to systems and processes to make you comfortable with not having a Will.
For the sake of this same Intestates’ Estate and Property Charges Act, parents of adult children who are also interested in their adult child’s financial well-being (especially in situations where children are had across more than one relationships) should find it even more crucial to lay out their exact intentions for how they want their gifts to their children to be distributed via a valid Will.
We created Will and Tomorrow as a platform for educating parents and all Jamaicans of the importance of making their Will while they have the opportunity.
Our online Will-making platform breaks down the process into 7 steps, each with simple to understand questions. Your answers to the questions provide the input that allows you to get your own customized Will, covering all the components that are needed to make a valid will in Jamaica.
On top of that, you are able to make your Will from the comfort of your home, with the option of getting on live chat or on a phone call by calling us at 876-997-5256.
We encourage everyone, especially those who are parents - whether your children are minors or they’re adults, to make a Will without delay. We are here to help.
± Preliminary data from our Will and Tomorrow Bluedot Survery 2021
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