Interviews given by Princes William and Harry about the death of their mother Diana, the Princess of Wales, have revealed the trauma they experienced during the events of 20 years ago.
In a candid documentary broadcast on the BBC, Diana, 7 Days, Prince Harry revealed how Prince Charles had broken the news of Diana’s fatal accident to his sons while they were holidaying with the Queen at Balmoral.
“One of the hardest things for a parent to do is to tell your children that your other parent has died,” the Prince said. “But he was there for us, he was the one out of two left and he tried to do his best and make sure we were protected and looked after.”
Although William and Harry had their father to care for them and were well provided for, people often overlook the need to specify provision for their child or children in the event of their death, according to Plymouth solicitor Lucy Atwill.
Too often people consider Wills as a way of determining how their assets will be distributed, says Lucy who heads up the Wills and Probate Department of Plymouth Solicitors Curtis Whiteford Crocker.
A Will is also the best way of making it clear who should take care of your children if they are orphaned before the age of 18. A guardian will need to be appointed in the event that the remaining parent or existing guardian also dies.
Section 5 of the Children Act 1989 allows for the appointment of a guardian by a parent or an existing guardian with responsibility for the child and should be part of any Will. There is another option for a court order to be made in family proceedings.
“No one likes to think of their children being orphaned and the Princes have bravely shared their story of how traumatic it is for a youngster,” says Lucy. “But we do have to face up to that possibility and find someone who will bring up our children if we die in a way we would have wanted.
“There are lots of things to consider. You may want to choose someone from both sides of the family, but who has day to day care of the child needs to be agreed. It would be best, of course, for children to stay within the family but how would ageing grandparents cope?
“Are the potential guardians close to the child’s home? Do they have other children? Are they prepared to take on the responsibility? Whoever you choose to appoint, there needs to be an honest discussion about your wishes for the care of your children in the event of your death before they reach 18. All parties need to be sure that they will be able to take on the responsibility.
“You should also appoint trustees to care for your child’s inheritance. They can provide funds for their day to day needs be met with the option of managing the estate until the child reaches 18. A guardian can be a trustee too, but some people like to separate these roles,” explains Lucy.
“It’s a complex emotional issue, but it can also be a complex legal issue which is why it’s important to get the right advice.”