The importance of appointing a guardian for your children

Becoming a parent is life-changing and with so much excitement and planning involved along the way, it is hardly surprising that most people do not consider drafting a Will and appointing a guardian at what is a very important stage of their lives.

If the worst was to happen and both you and your partner pass away leaving children under the age of 18 (“minor children”), it can be for the court to decide who should bring up your child, up to the age of 18 if you have not appointed a guardian.

No one wants to think about not being around for their children but incorporating a “guardianship clause” into your Will now would give you peace of mind that your children will be looked after by someone you and importantly they trust.

Why appoint a guardian?

If there was one person in the world you would trust to bring up your child, who would it be?

This is a difficult question, and one which can prevent people from finalising their Wills. Making a Will allows you to take control over your affairs and specify who you would like to bring up your child the alternative is leaving it to the court to decide.

Appointing a guardian does not mean that the person you appoint will have any control or influence over your child during your lifetime, as the appointment only takes effect on your death and only when there is no-one else alive with parental responsibility. Your appointed guardian isn’t bound to accept the appointment and forewarning your appointed guardian could reassure you that your appointee is willing to take parental responsibility.

Should I make a Will?

A guardianship appointment only needs to be in writing and signed and dated to be valid. It can be a letter of wishes, setting out how you would like your child to be brought up. This can include a range of different things, from the kind of education you would like them to have, to sports, activities or hobbies you would like them to take part in. You can even specify which family members and friends you would like your child to be kept in touch with.

It is a very personal letter and, although not legally binding, it can be very useful for the person responsible for bringing up your child. However it is worth thinking about including this in your Will as this also takes into account other aspects of the administration of your estate such as who your executors/trustees will be as they will be responsible for dealing with the estate funds and releasing money to the guardian.

For more information in relation to appointing a guardian or making a Will, please contact David Hill on 01225 750 000 or we are here to help.

Mogers Drewett

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