When parents make Wills, they want to ensure their children are provided for in the best way. If you have children under the age of 18, you may want to choose a legal guardian for them in your Will. This guardian should be someone that, in the unfortunate and unlikely event both you and their other parent die, you trust to step in and care for your children. Appointing guardians to do this gives parents peace of mind for the future.
A legal guardian is an individual with the legal authority (and corresponding duty) for a child when the child’s parents are no longer able to. Essentially, it is their responsibility to raise and care for the child until they become an adult. This means they can make important decisions about the child’s upbringing, for instance:
Appointing a guardian gives you the opportunity to think carefully about whom you would want to raise your child in your absence. While for some parents, there may be an obvious choice such as a sibling, for others the answer may not be so simple. We have set out below a number of important considerations.
The most common method of appointing a guardian is through a Will – this has the added benefit that financial arrangements can be included within the same document. It does not have to be in a Will but this is good practice because the appointment will be intended to take effect on their death, which is the same for the rest of the Will.
If both parents of a child die without appointing guardians, only the court can appoint a guardian. The child may have to go into care or live with other family or friends until the court appointment is made. The person appointed may not be the same person whom you had hoped would look after your child.