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Appointing Guardians

In a worst case scenario if a minor child loses both parents, what happens to that child is determined by a judge, sitting in the Court of Protection, on the advice of social services unless you have appointed guardians through your Will.

 

Is that what you would want?

Guardians

A legal guardian is appointed to care for a child in case both parents die before the child reaches the age of 18. You should appoint a guardian(s) for your children in your Will or the courts will do it for you if the worst happens.

The guardian(s) will make important decisions about your children’s life in areas such as medical treatment and education and will directly affect how your children are schooled, how they are

taught the difference between right and wrong and how they are supervised during their lives up to adulthood.

 

What to consider when deciding who to appoint

Who is most able to take on the responsibility of caring for a child – emotionally, financially and physically?

Whom do your children feel comfortable with already?

Whose parenting style, values and religious beliefs most closely match your own?

Would the person have enough time and energy to devote to your children?

Would your children have to move far away and would that pose a problem?

Does the person you are considering have any other children? If so, would your children fit in or get lost in the shuffle?

 

Finally, ask yourself ‘can I live with that person taking care of my child’ If your inner voice says no – keep thinking.

 

Do discuss the appointment with the person you choose and find out if they feel they can take on this responsibility.

 

How will the guardians manage for money?

A guardian has no obligation to support your child from their own resources. There are a few different ways to approach this issue when making a Will.

Following the death of both parents, most Wills leave the residuary estate on trust for the children. The executors, as trustees, usually have powers to use money held on trust for the benefit of the children or to pay it to the guardian(s) to be used for the children’s benefit.

Parents may include in their Will a power for the trustees to loan money to the guardians.

Parents may wish to leave a cash gift to a guardian(s) that is conditional upon the acceptance of the appointment as a simple thank you, or the cash gift may be intended to enable the guardians to improve their home to accommodate the children.

The parents can write a letter of wishes making clear how they would like the trustees of their Wills to use their powers to provide financial support for the children.

Consider DIY/online, legal professional

or a solicitor to appoint guardians.

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