This is an emotive issue for parents and one that needs to be very carefully considered. No one wants to think they will die young and leave their children orphaned but careful planning when making your Will can save bitter family battles in the event of your death.
A guardian is someone you have named in your Will as the person or persons you would like to be responsible for the care of your children if they are orphaned before the age of 18. If you do not appoint guardians the courts will appoint guardians instead, but they may not be the people that you would have chosen.
Head of our Wills & Tax Team, Lee Young, explains “The first step towards choosing guardians is to understand the responsibilities that they will take on. Apart from the day to day care of your children they will be making decisions about their education, moral upbringing and health. Normally a guardian will also be one of the Trustees for the property held in Trust for your children, as they will be responsible for taking care of their finances. It is advisable to appoint an unrelated Trustee at the same time – for example a solicitor or accountant could do this – to guard against conflict of interest and give support to the guardians dealing with the financial and legal aspects of a trust.”
When considering who to appoint as guardians think about their current family circumstances – do they have a stable relationship, do their parenting skills reflect your own values and are they willing to take on responsibility for your children long term.
You may appoint just one guardian when writing your Will but most people choose to appoint a couple. Should it become necessary to change your appointed guardians – should one of them die, their relationship breaks down, or they are no longer able to take on the responsibility – this is easily done by adding a codicil to your Will or appointing alternative guardians when writing your Will.
For a free initial consultation please call 01202 499255 and Lee will be happy to discuss any questions you may have.