The key legal documents all parents should have in place

The key legal documents all parents should have in place
The key legal documents all parents should have in place
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Watching the ever-radiant Duchess of Cambridge making her way down the steps of the Lindo Wing yesterday, it will have been hard for most of us to draw any comparisons with our own post-labour selves.

From Kate’s appearance to the staff eagerly waiting to help her out at home, the life of a Royal mum, it seems, is a world away from our own.

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However, according to private client solicitor Claire Currie, partner at Kirwans law firm, Kate is just one of a number of celebrity mums – including powerhouses Amal Clooney who has twins, and Khloe Kardashian who has just had her first child – who have more in common with other parents than we might think.

“With their glossy hair and immaculate clothes, it’s easy to think these women have it easy when it comes to parenting,” she says.

“While there’s no doubt that their wealth affords them advice and help that can make the practicalities of motherhood a lot easier, they still share many of the same concerns as the rest of us.

“Perhaps the most frightening of these is the one we talk about least; the fear that either divorce or death of a parent could leave our children in a precarious situation.

“I’ve seen cases where parents have died, and the children are then dragged through the family courts so that a decision can be made as to who should care for them.

“I’ve also seen equally sad cases where divorce has ripped families apart – with children usually being the first and most severe casualty.

“It’s so important to sit down with a solicitor and plan for the scenarios which could put the wellbeing of you and your child at risk to ensure that if the worst happens, you’ll both be taken care of.”

We’re pretty sure that both Kate and Khloe have got this covered; but for those of us who don’t have a legal team on standby, here’s Claire’s guide to the key legal documents all parents should have in place:

A will

Probably the most obvious legal document for parents to have in place, but many believe that if they don’t have any savings or much equity in their house, it’s not worth making a will. However, another reason people make wills is to appoint a guardian for their child, which is absolutely crucial if you don’t want them to be caught in the middle of a guardianship battle should the worst happen to you and your partner.

Lasting power of attorney (LPA)

There are two types of LPA; health and welfare, and property and financial affairs, and both are vital if you want to make sure that a smooth plan of action would kick into place should you become lose the ability to make your own decisions. While a health LPA allows a trusted person to make healthcare choices on your behalf if you become unable to, a property and financial LPA gives an attorney the power to run your financial affairs, such as ensuring your mortgage is paid and house insurance continues; important stuff when it comes to providing a secure future for the kids.


If parents die and leave behind children under the age of 18, a trust will be created statutorily to protect the money until the child turns 18, but many parents prefer their wealth to be held in trust until the child hits their twenties or thirties, and set up their own. Trustees control the trust but parents can provide instructions as to how much income they can release, and at what point or points, to the beneficiaries.

Advance decision (living will)

An advance decision sets out a person’s wishes to refuse medical treatment in the future, and takes effect if and when you become unable to make or communicate your own decisions about that treatment. It is legally binding so those caring for you must follow your instructions, but it can become complicated if a LPA for health and care is also in place, so legal advice should be sought.

Pre and Post-nuptial

Although not formally binding, pre and post-nuptial agreements can be a useful tool for those who want to avoid fighting over assets in the event of a split. Children and their provision are not covered by these agreements; instead they focus on the division of assets according to the circumstances of the divorce. Having one in place, however, will significantly reduce the chances of a traumatic court battle developing.