When Creating a Will, you will have the chance to make your wishes clear, especially when it comes to who should care for your children if you die before they turn 18 years of age. The guardian will have the responsibility of making decisions that relate to your child’s education, welfare and health but without a guardian it is the Courts who will decide who will look after your children and where they will reside.
Selecting a Guardian
It is possible for you to pick anyone to be a guardian, providing they are mentally capable of dealing with the role and are over the age of 18. However, you must also make sure that they have the best interests of your child at heart, which means it is more than just choosing someone that you like. You might have to consider their beliefs and whether they want the same thing as you when it comes to health, lifestyle and education.
Where they live is also crucial as it could mean that your children may have to move from a place that they are familiar with, change schools or lose contact with other family members. Should they live abroad, there are other things to consider such as visas. Any wishes that you have should be discussed with your chosen guardian in advance. Find out more.
Guardians – Should parents be named?
If the parents live in England or Wales and are not married then, should the father pass away, the mother will become the responsible parent. In contrast to this, if the mother passes away, the father will only be given sole parental responsibility if he has been named on the child’s birth certificate if they were born after 1st December 2003.
Is there a limit to the number of Guardians?
In the main, the majority of parents prefer to choose two and often this is a couple but it is possible to select as many as four guardians. Of course, the more guardians there are, the higher the chance of problems and disagreements.
The Court Process – When a Guardian is not in Place after Death
The Court will instruct social services to find a guardian and then social services will present these findings. All potential guardians will be assessed based on the relationship with the child as well as the level of interaction along with a report about supporting the child. The whole process is about ensuring that they are brought up in what the Court decides are the best for the children, although this doesn’t always match up with what the parents would have wanted. Find out more
The Court has to be happy that the potential guardian has the ability to cope with the responsibility of caring for the child while the child also has to be satisfied. The interests of the child will always be considered when making a decision.
The Guardian no longer wants to be a Guardian
If the chosen guardian no longer wants the responsibility, then the parents will need to be informed so that the Will can be changed. If the parent has already passed away, then the executors will need to be informed so they can let substitute guardians know or make an application to the court for a new guardian to be put in place. This could result in the child being taken into care until the issue is resolved.