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Using your will to appoint guardians

I often find that one of the main reasons people cross the line between knowing in the back of their mind that they should make a will, and actually taking steps to do so, is their concern about what would happen to their children in the event of their death.

If both parents of (or people with parental responsibility for) a child die and no guardians have been appointed, it would be down to a judge to decide who the most appropriate person or people would be to take on this role. Not only may this not align with your wishes but, until this decision is made, your children may be placed in care.

When making a will, not only can you take the time to give careful consideration to who to appoint as guardians, you can also include – if you wish – directions for your children’s upbringing. I always say to my clients that whether or not they leave such directions is personal choice and around half of my clients decide to do so. Directions could include things like :

  • I would like my children to be allowed and encouraged to maintain a close relationship with wider family members
  • I would like my children to continue to receive a religious upbringing
  • I would like my daughter to be allowed and encouraged to pursue her love of swimming
  • I would like my son to privately educated until he reaches the age of 18

Another thing a carefully drafted will allows you to do is appoint substitute guardians. This means that if the people you name initially as your ‘main’ guardians are unable to act (for example, their health has declined, they have moved away or they feel otherwise unable to take on the role) your substitute guardians will be able to step in and take care of your children.

I have previously written an article about who to choose as guardians which you may also find useful. You can find it here.

It is also important to note that a guardianship appointment will only take place if both people with parental responsibility have died. (I have spoken to many clients who are no longer in a relationship with their child’s mother or father and have had to advise them that appointing a guardian in their will does not override the parental responsibility and rights of the other parent).

If you have any questions at all about this subject or would like to make an appointment to put your own will in place, please do not hesitate to get in touch here.

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