Parents in the South West have no childcare plans if they die

Mon 23rd Jan 2023

8 out of 10 parents in the South West have no legal guardian in place to care for their children in the event of their deaths, according to new statistics released today.

Research commissioned by SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) and Coodes Solicitors, based in Cornwall and Devon, shows many people have no legal plans in place to make sure their children are looked after, should the parents die.

In fact, parents in the South West are the least prepared in the whole of the UK – 82% of parents in the region have not appointed legal guardians for their children, compared to the national average of 70%.

According to the latest figures, parents in the South West are almost completely unaware of the risks of not identifying a legal guardian in a will. Only one fifth (17%) understand that social services or the courts can step in to decide what happens to your children if you don’t have a will in place.

SFE, a membership body of more than 1,700 UK solicitors specialised in advising people planning for the future is calling on parents to make sure they have an updated will in place ahead of ‘Update Your Will Week 2023’ (23 – 29 January).

Sarah Cornish, partner and head of the wills, probate and trusts team at Coodes Solicitors in Cornwall, explains: “It is surprising how many parents do not have a will in place which includes appointing a legal guardian for their children. Godparents do not count as legal guardians and so to avoid the risk of the courts deciding what would happen to your children in the event of your death, you really should make a will. It is also sensible to review and update it every five years.”

She adds: “It is crucial to keep your will up to date and take legal advice when life-changing events happen, such as getting married, re-married or having children. Research shows that over half of the wills in the South West are out of date and many people in Cornwall and Devon do not have one in the first place.”

The new research commissioned by SFE and Coodes and carried out by Censuswide also reveals:

  • Only 48% of respondents in the South West have updated their will within the last five years, meaning over half of the wills in the region are out of date.
  • Around a third of respondents in the South West (30%) have experienced a life-changing event, such as getting married, divorced, or having a child, since they last updated their will.
  • One in ten respondents in the South West (11%) know someone who has been affected by something going wrong with a will.

Coodes Solicitors recommend reviewing and updating your Will every five years, or when a major change in your life occurs that impacts you or your loved ones, such as divorce, marriage, a new birth or even death in the family. Having an up-to-date, well drafted Will is crucial to ensure your wishes are carried out in the way you would like when you die.

To find out more about Wills, visit or the work of Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), visit

Mon 23rd Jan 2023

Sarah Cornish

Head of Private Client

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