LET US TAKE THE STRESS OUT OF THE PROCESS
What is a Guardian?
A guardian’s role is to take over responsibility for your children in the event that you die before they reach the age of 18. You may only appoint guardians for children in your Will if you have ‘parental responsibility’ for the children.
Who can be a Guardian?
Any adult of your choosing can be a guardian to your child/children. This can be a close family friend with whom the child/children already have a bond with, or a family member not already directly involved in their care, such as an aunt or uncle. It is important to take into account beforehand, the relationship the child/children have with the person(s) you intend to appoint as their guardian.
Why appoint Guardians?
If you fail to appoint guardians in your Will and your child/children are left without parents before they reach 18, they will become Wards of Court who will appoint guardians for you, but they won’t necessarily choose the people that you would have chosen to take care of your children.
By appointing guardians, you ensure that your children are looked after by the people you have chosen as the best people to bring up your children as you would have yourself.
When considering who to appoint as legal guardians for your child/children, you will need to consider the following points:
• How do I feel about their values and parenting skills?
• Are they able to offer a stable family environment?
• What is the quality of their present relationship with my child/children?
• Are they willing and able to handle the responsibility of caring for my child/children on a long-term basis?
• Do your guardians live locally?
• Will your child have to move school to live with your chosen guardian?
Roles and Responsibilities of Guardians
The roles and responsibilities of guardians include the following: • Day-to-day care of the children.
• Making decisions about the children’s upbringing, education, health and welfare.
• Will your guardian come to live in your home to bring up the children?
If so, a trust in the Will permitting the guardian to live in your home following your death could be appropriate.
• Does the guardian have suitable accommodation for your child to live in their home?
Should I make the guardians trustees as well?
Many people choose to do this, as the guardians will be taking care of your children’s finances until they are 18. If you do this, it is advisable to appoint a further Trustee who is not related to the guardians. In doing so, this will help to provide objectivity and guard against conflicts of interest.
How to appoint a guardian
To appoint a guardian – it is obviously important to inform the person(s) you wish to be guardian(s). It is something that requires a lot of thought and discussion before a decision is reached, so do allow appropriate time and space to think it through. Do not make any rushed decisions or appoint a guardian(s) without consulting them first. The appointment will be included within your Will by the inclusion of a special clause.
When appointing guardian(s) in a Will, there can be no doubt as to its origin and therefore its intent giving you peace of mind and safe in the knowledge that whatever the future holds, your children’s welfare will be looked after by the people you have chosen.