Will with guardianship – Who will have responsibility for your children?

The birth of a child is invariably one of the happiest moments in the life of any family.

After deciding what to name a new arrival, the attention of many parents then turns to the christening or naming ceremony and the often difficult decision as to who to appoint as godparents or supporting adults. At this stage it is often worth considering who you would want to care for your children in the unfortunate event that you die and they become orphaned.

It is a common misconception that the role of a godparent or supporting adult is the same as that of a legal guardian. It isn’t. They are different. All new parents would be well advised to consider appointing a legal guardian for any minor children in their Wills.

It is a further misconception that a Will is just an instrument to pass on your wealth to your family and friends. It isn’t. It can also be a crucial document to protect a child if his or her parents die.

Any adult who has parental responsibility for a minor can appoint a guardian to look after their children in their Will.

If you need guidance on what parental responsibility is then please have a look at this article by our Family Solicitor; Sally Leaman, which can be found here.

Having established that you have parental responsibility and that you are legally able to appoint guardians by your Will, the next step is to decide who you wish to appoint as guardians. Of course, you need to appoint people you trust absolutely to raise your child. There are a number of factors to consider here:

You need to think about the relationship of the prospective guardian to you and the child. Most people would choose to appoint a relative or friend that the child knows, gets on well with, and who has a similar outlook on life to the parent from a moral, ethical and religious standpoint, and any other factors the parent considers relevant. Other things such as the guardian’s geographical location should be taken into account. Disruption to a child’s life as a result of having to move away from home should ideally be kept to a minimum.

A prospective guardian’s age should also be taken into consideration. Your parents might be the natural choice to be guardians for your own children. However you need to be aware of the fact that they will, in all likelihood, die before you or simply become too old and infirm to look after your children.

Having decided who you would ideally like to become guardians for your children, it is essential that you speak to them and make sure that they are willing to act. People appointed as guardians by Will can, if they choose, refuse the appointment. You don’t want this to happen, after having gone to the trouble of making a Will.

If you haven’t made a Will, or would like to make changes to an existing Will, speak to one of our specialist team today! Make sure your children will be protected and safe.