Appointment of Guardians – The hardest thing to do

Our own mortality is something we do not like dwelling on for understandable reasons.

Especially if we have young children.

However, no matter what we feel it is something we all have to face at some time and making a will can be a positive step that all parents should take to protect their most important and precious asset – their children.

It often surprises us when young families are concerned that the focus appears to be on the financial aspects followed closely by the tax concerns and the last or least thought is for the appointment of the guardians for the children.

The law is quite clear on this subject. If you have children under the age of eighteen and die without a will which appoints guardians, the family courts will decide who should look after them if there is no surviving parent with parental responsibility.

This applies even where your children have godparents or grandparents or a network of honorary Aunties to look after them.

We all have friends who we feel we know who would appoint as guardians but if they do not appoint guardians within a validly executed will, any informal or religious appointments and assumptions will not be binding. In fact, the family courts will not necessarily choose the people you would have chosen to look after your children.

The guardian of a minor child has an important and responsible role to play. He, she or they will step into the shoes of the parents as far as major decisions about the child are concerned. This may include decisions such as where they will live, how they are educated, or their health.

The appointment of your guardians should be carefully considered and reviewed over time.

You should consider the guardians age, resources, location, their relationship and bond with your children.

You should also check that they are willing and happy to be appointed.

You may wish to leave a legacy to the guardians or draw up a letter of wishes to be opened by your guardians only in the event of taking up the appointment.

Taking these steps now to protect your loved ones is perhaps the most important reason why you should be making a will now and not leave it to later on in life.