Guardianship – What would happen to your children if you died?

Provision for Children by Will

Are you a parent to minor children? If so, have you considered what should happen to your children in the event of you and your partner’s death while the children are still minors? If not then you ought to consider making a Will and appointing guardians to take over the care of your minor children in the event of your death. The alternative is to leave your children’s guardianship in the hands of the Court.

Duties of Guardians

Guardians will take on parental responsibility for the children, and will take on the same duties of a parent:

  • Deciding where the children live
  • Providing them with a home
  • Deciding on their medical treatment
  • Day to day care of the children
  • Deciding on the children’s education.

What to consider?

It’s important to carefully consider who should act as your children’s guardian. While many parents would choose their own parents to take guardianship you should consider how practical this is. If your parents are elderly is it likely that they will be physically capable of caring for your minor children?

You should also consider whether the children already have a relationship with your proposed guardian(s). Do they live close by or will the children need to move far away, and if they do need to move how will they cope with being uprooted like this?

What is the guardian’s financial position like? Will they have the means necessary to care for your children? Any financial burden on them can be alleviated by leaving a sum of money in trust to your children, as this may be made available to the guardians to assist with the children’s maintenance, education and other benefit.

Number of Guardians

You may appoint multiple guardians. You may even appoint different guardians for different children, however this would be unusual and would lead to the children being split up.

You should consider how many guardians it is reasonable to appoint. Often a couple will want to involve both sets of grandparents or siblings equally, but this can lead to a situation where there are too many guardians to properly manage the children’s upbringing – especially where not all of the guardians can agree on what it best for the children.

Where you don’t want either side of the family to feel excluded the best solution is to appoint one side as the first guardians, and include the others as substitute guardians.

Financial Provision

Acting as a guardian for your children does not have to cause financial hardship. If a sum of money or share of your estate is held on trust for your children until they reach their majority the trustees of your estate have powers to advance money to the guardians to assist them with the care of the children.

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