A guardian is someone you have named in your Will as the person you would like to be responsible for your children if they are orphaned before reaching the age of 18.
Why appoint Guardians?
If your children are left orphaned, and you’ve not made a will appointing a guardian, the courts will take responsibility for your children until a guardian is found. The court will try to find the best guardian, but may not choose the person you’d have preferred to take care of your children.
Although the courts will do their best to find a family member to look after your child, until a guardian is appointed your children may be placed in care if there’s no one available to look after them. The process can take a huge toll on all your family, especially on your children, as the search for their guardian continues.
There are also no guarantees that the court will keep your children will together in the same family.
How to Appoint Guardians
To appoint legal guardians for your children, you must name them as your chosen guardians in your Will. Before doing this you will need to approach the people you would like to appoint as guardians to find out whether they are willing and able to take on this responsibility. You may also wish to appoint alternative guardians, who will take their place if your intended guardians pass away.
It is also worth considering and discussing with your chosen guardians how the financial demands of caring for your children will be met. One way is to appoint the guardians as trustees of your children’s inheritance so that they can access the funds for the children’s benefit if needed.
We recommend appointing replacement or substitute guardians in the event that the person/people you choose are unable or unwilling to look after your children when the time comes.
When considering who to appoint as legal guardian for your children, you will need to consider the following:
You may appoint just one guardian, although most people choose to appoint two, typically a couple.
Careful consideration has to be given to whom you chose to be your children’s guardian. This person will be parenting your child and will make decisions about your children’s health, schooling, moral and social training.
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 also to appoint another trustee who is not related to the guardians, e.g. a solicitor or accountant. Doing so will help to provide objectivity and guard against conflicts of interest. It will also provide the guardians with some support in handling the financial and legal aspects of a trust.
If you haven’t made your Will appointing guardians for your children, don’t delay and contact us today. Evening and weekend appointments are available.
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