Appointing a Guardian | What You Need to Know
Sadly, by the age of 16, 1 in 20 children have experienced losing one or both of their parents. If anything happened to you, and you have not appointed a guardian in your Will, then your children could be left with nobody to look after them.
Naturally, most people think that custody of their children will automatically pass over to their partner or next of kin but this is not how it works. If you make a Will and appoint a guardian then you will be deciding who you want your child’s guardian to be in a legally binding way.
Isn’t my partner the automatic guardian?
Guardians are only used if there are no surviving parents (or other person with parental responsibility). Mothers will always have parental responsibility and fathers have responsibility if they were married to the mother at the time when the child was born or if they are named on the birth certificate. If your partner does not have parental responsibility then guardianship with not automatically pass to them.
When it comes to choosing guardians it is often close family members and friends that are chosen. If you know of parents who are young and healthy and are capable of looking after them then they are a good choice. In a similar way, if you have siblings then they can also be a good choice, particularly if they have children of their own.
It isn’t an easy task to choose guardians but it can help if you create a list of people who you think could be fit for the role should it be needed. Here you can consider their values such as their cultural or religious beliefs and how that would influence the way in which your children would be raised.
Naturally, they will also need to be able to care and provide for your child, and you will also need to consider whether they are familiar to your child. As this would be a traumatic time for your children you should also think about the location of your guardians because you might not want your child to be uprooted and move away from their friends and family.
Once you have chosen your guardian what should you do?
Once you have come to a decision over who you want to be your guardian you need to talk it through with them and inform them of your wishes and that you would like to add them into your Will. If they are happy with your request then all you need to do is ensure a guardianship clause is included in your Will.
What if you cannot make a decision?
If you find yourself in this position then ultimately you will need to choose a guardian that you are happy with for now. This is because there is always a risk that the worst can happen and, while it is not something pleasant to think about, it is an important decision to make. Don’t put it off and make the decision as soon as possible.