How to choose a guardian for your children

Naming guardians for your children is one of the key reasons for parents to write a will. The reason is obvious: If there are no guardians named, the courts decide who will look after your children. An already traumatic time for them is made ultimately worse by potentially having to go into care in the meantime. 

Your first thought process might be - if something happens to mum, dad will automatically look after the children. Wouldn't you be shocked to learn, this is not always possible? Not all fathers have parental responsibility. If a dad doesn't, he may not be given the right to look after the children. 

While a biological mother automatically has parental responsibility, it's worth checking that the father has this too. If not, he should be appointed guardian in a will (if that is your wish) to ensure he could look after the children. 

Make sure your family is prepared.

So, you're sure you both have parental responsibility and want to make sure your children are looked after if the worst should happen. 

Parents often agonise over who to pick as a guardian for their children, especially if their own parents are elderly or they live too far away/abroad.

You should consider a few key points, before deciding. 

Legal Guardians have the same responsibilities as parents, they make day to day decisions for children as well as decisions in general about their education, upbringing, health & welfare. 

Your ideal guardian is someone who

  • will have a similar parenting style
  • is "willing" to be a guardian
  • is geographically close
  • is healthy and young enough to look after your children
  • who has the space to accommodate them

A guardian does not have to a be a family member. It can be a single friend or a couple you know who would be willing to take this on. It's also a good idea to have a back up guardian, as any guardian that you name, can revoke their appointment at any time.  

It is even worth discussing it with people you think would say no. Many friends will commit to this as it really is a "worst case scenario" and they would not want to see your children go into care. Often people have reciprocal agreements - "If we die, you'll look after ours and if you die, we'll look after yours."

Of course it helps, if you are prepared for the worst to happen and there are funds to either extend the property or purchase a new one and look after the financial future of the children. It likely makes a decision for a potential guardian that bit easier, knowing that there is a mortgage-free house or a pot of money to help take care of things, in case they are called upon. 

If you would like to make a will in the comfort of your home, or have any other questions in regards to guardianship, get in touch with me.