Wills and Tax Planning
Appointing guardians for your children
We all know that we should make a Will. However, it is something that many of us put off, maybe because we just don't like to think about it or because it often means making some difficult decisions. By making a Will, you can choose who to appoint as a guardian to take care of your children in the unlikely event that both parents pass away whilst the children are under the age of 18 years. If you do not make a Will, the court will choose who looks after your children.
Considerations when choosing a guardian
What happens if a Guardian is not appointed?
If a guardian is not appointed, the ultimate decision on who will look after your children is made by the Court. Although the Court will do all that they can to appoint whom they consider to be the best person, this may not be the person that you would have chosen.
How do I appoint a Guardian?
All you need to do is make a Will and in that Will you name your guardian. Remember that the appointment of the guardian will only take effect if both parents pass away whilst the children are under the age of 18 years.
Who should I choose?
This is often the difficult decision to make, who do you want to bring up your children if you are not around? These are a few things you might want to consider:
- Who is most able to take on the role of caring for your children from an emotional, physical and financial point of view?
- How would this person bring up your children - what is their parenting style, do they have the same values as you, what are their religious beliefs?
- Is there anyone that your children are very close to already?
- Does this person have children of their own - would your child fit in with them?
- How far away does this person live - would your children have to change schools?
It is sensible to talk to the person that you are considering to make sure that they would be happy to take on the role.
One or more than one Guardian?
It is best to choose one person. Don’t be tempted to keep both ‘sides’ of the family happy by appointing someone from each family group. If guardians do not live together how can they jointly parent the children? You also want to avoid any family feuds.
Can I change the Guardian at a later date?
Yes. You may wish to appoint your parents initially but as they get older you might want to change the appointment. This can be done by changing or updating your Will.
What responsibilities will my guardian have?
The guardian will have all the legal responsibilities and rights associated with parenthood (called “parental responsibility”). The guardian will be responsible for providing a home for the child, protecting and maintaining them, making decisions about care, health and welfare as well as education and discipline.
If you leave your estate to your children this will be managed by your Trustees (named in your Will). This will be used to support your children for example paying for education, their general upbringing, holidays, school trips etc and will ensure that your guardian will not be out of pocket.
Choosing a guardian may be easy, it may be difficult, but it is a decision that has to be made. Therefore, don't put off making your Will any longer and make sure that you have done all that you can to protect your children's future.