Appoint a guardian in your Will
The Wellers Starting Out Will is designed for young parents who want to make sure their children will be looked after should they die unexpectedly. It specifically allows for the appointment of a guardian or guardians.
Here we answer some of the most commonly occurring questions about guardians.
Why choose a guardian
If you have children under the age of 18, you may wish to use your Will to appoint a guardian or guardians who would become legally responsible for them if you and your spouse both die before they reach adulthood.
If there are no guardians nominated, the Family Court will appoint a legal guardian for your children; this is typically a close relative, but it may not be the person you would have chosen.
What does a guardian do?
A legal guardian will gain parental responsibility for your children if you both die before the children turn 18; the guardian would become legally responsible in the same ways you are.
On your death, your chosen guardians will be responsible for your children’s upbringing until adulthood, providing a safe place for them to live, looking after their health, and ensuring they receive an education.
Who can I choose to be a guardian?
You can choose anyone who doesn’t currently have parental responsibility for your child; this could be your parents, siblings or close friends.
If you are not married to the child’s other parent, they may not currently have parental responsibility and you may wish to name them as a guardian in your Will.
It’s important to note that if you die having named a guardian but the other parent is still alive and has parental responsibility, the parent will automatically have full responsibility for your children regardless of whether they no longer live with the children or if there is a step-parent who looks after the children currently.
Guardians will only ever be sought for children if there is no surviving adult with parental responsibility.
You can choose one person as a guardian or two (typically if they are a couple). You may wish to choose separate guardians for each of your children, especially if the considerations for each child are broadly different (see the questions below).
What should I consider when choosing a guardian
When most people are thinking about naming a guardian, their family members are usually at the top of the list. However, if you have a long list of possible names to choose from there are some simple things to consider which can help with the decision making process.
- What are your religious beliefs and values? Do your guardians hold similar beliefs?
- What are your children’s main hobbies and pastimes? Would your guardians be able to ensure they can continue doing these activities?
- Would your children have to move school?
- Do your guardians have their own children?
- Are your chosen guardians comfortable with the nomination?
Like many questions relating to our own mortality, thinking about dying before your children is almost too difficult to contemplate, but not appointing a guardian is a really counter-productive move because all you are likely to want for your children is to ensure that they are looked after by the most appropriate person. When you have decided upon a guardian to appoint in your Will, you should inform them before adding the details to your Will.
Financial arrangements for children with special needs
If your child has a learning disability or any special needs, you may also wish to set up a discretionary trust to provide financial security and to protect any means tested benefits. If appropriate, your chosen guardian may also be the trustee of your child’s fund. Wellers can provide advice and guidance relating to trust matters as part of our Will writing service.
How do I appoint a legal guardian for my children?
It is actually quite a simple process to name a guardian in your Will, but like all Will-related clauses and amendments, it must be done correctly in order to be valid upon your death.
Wellers Will writing service offers a comprehensive package of Wills to suit all situations. The drafting of all our Wills is overseen by qualified solicitors who fully understand the ramifications of this important document and the sensitive nature of some of the major considerations you will need to make.
If you would you like to discuss your will writing issue with us, please call us on 0207 481 2422 for our London team of private client solicitors, 0208 464 4242 for Bromley, 01483 284567 for Surrey or 01732 457575 for Sevenoaks.