How to choose a Guardian

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Do you have children under the age of eighteen? If so, then one of the main reasons for making a Will should be to appoint guardians for your children. Here are some points to consider about how to choose a Guardian

Suitability

Think about the age, health and financial circumstances of the proposed guardian(s). If choosing parents or older relatives, will they be able to cope with the practical demands of bringing up young children or teenagers?

If you do appoint older relatives, then it is wise to also appoint a substitute guardian. This is in case the nominated guardians are unable to act for any reason.

Other factors to bear in mind include the quality of the relationship with your child, lifestyle, and values of the Guardians. If you have specific beliefs that you would want potential guardians to respect, consider writing a letter of wishes to accompany your Will.

Ideally, the guardians that you appoint should be living in the UK.  If you do appoint guardians who are living abroad then please be aware that this will not mean that the guardians will be permitted to reside in the UK or that the Courts will automatically allow your child to travel abroad.

The Role of a Guardian

Being a guardian for a child means taking on parental responsibility. This includes everyday parenting decisions in addition to more fundamental choices about health care, education and where a child should live.

Although it is hoped by all concerned that this is a role that is never needed, the role of the guardian takes place immediately upon death. This is providing that there is no surviving person with parental responsibility for your child.  Please check with your preferred guardians that they agree to be guardians before naming them in your Will!

Single / Joint Guardianship

Given the nature of parental responsibility, if you are considering appointing more than one guardian (who is not part of a cohabiting couple) then the practical implications of a joint appointment could become difficult to manage.

An example of this would be to appoint your brother and sister to act as joint guardians. They would share parental responsibility but may have differing views on what is best for your child. This could result in conflict and delays in decision making that ultimately may need to be settled through the family courts if an agreement is not reached.

As it is your Will, it is of course up to you who choose. The ideal guardians, however, are generally those that act alone or as part of a cohabiting couple.

Financial Issues

Making sure that your children are provided for financially is just as important as appointing Guardians.

The range of options available to you can be discussed when you are making your Will. One popular option, however, is to set up a trust within your Will. A trust keeps your child’s future inheritance safe but enables money to be advanced to guardians by trustees to assist with the cost of looking after the child. Many parents see this as preferable to the guardians receiving their child’s inheritance directly to protect it from being spent by the guardians or held amongst their own assets.

To appoint a Guardian in your Will or discuss how to protect your children, please contact Claudine Jackson on 0115 8461446 or email claudine@trentwillsestates.co.uk 

     

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