Appointing a guardian for your children
The possibility of both you and your partner dying while your children are still under 18 verges on the unthinkable but, however unlikely this situation might seem, it is important that you make provision for it in your will. Unless you have given specific instructions, children left without any parents can be placed in care and the court will appoint an official guardian to look after them. You can avoid this by appointing a guardian of your choice, providing peace of mind that your children would be left in the care of someone you trust.
Deborah Adams, Director of Private Client department at Parnalls Solicitors, explains more:-
The role of a guardian
A child’s natural parents usually have what is known as parental responsibility for them, and they can appoint a guardian to take on this responsibility in their place if they both die. The guardian will only officially take on this role if there is no one else alive with parental responsibility, and it will end as soon as the child is 18.
Guardians make decisions about important aspects of a child’s life, such as their education, medical treatment and where they live. A guardian is not required to support a child using their own resources, so they need to be provided with regular income or a lump sum of money to help them financially when carrying out their role.
Why you should appoint a guardian
If you die, your children may stay with family or friends but, if you have not appointed a guardian this would be only a temporary arrangement. The local authority might take your children into its care while a court decides what long-term arrangement would be best. This can be more complicated in complex family situations where, for example, there have been second marriages and it may not be immediately obvious where would be best for the children to live. This lack of certainty can be traumatic, especially for young children, and can lead to family disagreements about who should care for them.
As well as providing certainty for your family, appointing a guardian allows you to choose someone you and your children know and trust, and to make a considered choice. For instance, although grandparents might be an obvious option, will they be able to look after teenagers in their old age? You also need to consider things such as where the guardian lives and what this might mean for schooling, and whether you are comfortable with the guardian’s parenting style, values and religious beliefs.
How a solicitor can help
There are lots of issues to consider when appointing a guardian in your will, so it is important to seek legal advice at an early stage. Your solicitor can draw up a new will for you, or add the guardianship appointment to an existing one.
At the same time, your solicitor can make financial arrangements for your children in your will. You may wish it to say that if both parents die, the money left after paying debts and expenses – known as the residuary estate – is held on trust for your children until they reach a certain age. The trustees of the money usually have the power to make some of it available for the children’s benefit, for example, to pay school fees or to be given to the guardian to use. Some parents also choose to leave a cash gift to the guardian as an expression of gratitude.
Over time you might change your mind about your chosen guardian and want to appoint someone else instead, for example if your first choice becomes ill. Your solicitor can help you either to make a new will or to make a codicil, which is an addition to your will that modifies part of it.
Letter of wishes
Your solicitor may also recommend that you have a document known as a letter of wishes. This is read alongside your will and can provide guidance on how you would like your children to be raised or money in a trust fund to be spent.
Power of attorney
It is also important to consider what would happen if your children were left with only one parent and that parent loses capacity, for example, because of a brain injury. In that situation, a legal document called a lasting power of attorney (LPA) would allow people of your choice to make decisions about your children on your behalf. An LPA cannot give someone legal responsibility for your child, but it can give them the ability to manage your finances. It can also allow them to access your money immediately if necessary, which might be very important where children are concerned.
If you require advice on appointing a guardian, or any other private client or family matter, please contact Deborah Adams on 01566 772375 or email email@example.com or Alexis Hager firstname.lastname@example.org
Been Asked to Sign an Employment Settlement Agreement? Seek Advice Urgently...
Services Update: Continuity of Legal Service Provision
Advising You in Uncertain Times
Could carelessness on social media land you in court?
Is an electronic signature on a commercial property document acceptable?
What happens when there is no health & care LPA in place
Social Media Training for Businesses
Information to gather for your probate solicitor
Gazundering, what it is and how to avoid it
Relief from forfeiture – what happens if the tenant forgets to pay the rent?
Not so safe at work - compensation for an accident at work
New organ donation law: giving you control
Running a business from home
Have nude photos of you or your teenager been posted online?
Landowners’ rights and the Electronic Communications Code
Building in your back garden
Christmas is a time for giving (and inheritance planning)
Buying the freehold of your leasehold house
Redeveloping an empty pub for commercial use
Why it takes time to obtain the Grant of Probate
Social Media: The unconscious privacy threat
Is your reputation being threatened?
Making a will after your spouse or partner has died
Interns celebrate completion of internship at solicitors
Selling your home in a flat market, some top tips
Claiming compensation for a serious road traffic accident
New Media and Communications Court list reflects surge in internet defamation claims by Laura Baglow
Has your personal information been shared without your permission?
Planning your escape to the country, what you need to consider – part 2
Government consultation on new national model for shared ownership
Choosing a partnership structure
Planning for what happens when you die by Deborah Adams
Changes to legislation could offer protection for tenants in the private rental sector
Move to the country - Part One
The risks of DIY probate
Will your septic tank still be legal in January?
The death knell for ‘kiss and tell’?
Making a will when you retire
Selling your property at auction
Not looking so good - your guide to compensation for botched non-surgical cosmetic procedures
New threshold of seriousness in defamation proceedings
Legal considerations when building a granny annex
Choosing the right person for your power of attorney
Formal Interviews - Do you need legal representation?
Privacy rights and aerial images
Trustees’ duty to give information to beneficiaries
Five problems with a leasehold property
Taking your first commercial lease
Is your organisation protected from employee social media legal risk?
Have you been targeted by negative social media posts?
Farmers be alert when being inspected
Help for House Sellers?
Don’t let your digital assets end up in a digital grave
Valuing an estate for probate
Development proposals and your local authority search
What can you do if your child is injured in a serious accident
NetRights welcomes new protection for social media users
SHOULD I GET A LAWYER FOR A SPEEDING OFFENCE?
Supreme Court recognises that social media is a “casual medium” in libel battle
Choosing the best conveyancer who is right for you
Making a will after a second or subsequent marriage
Option or promotion agreement – which is best for landowners?
Anonymous pub and restaurant online reviews leave a bad taste
Have you had an accident involving a horse?
Help to Buy – beware of some cracks in the structure
Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney
Changes to Energy Performance Certificate for Landlords
Had a cycling accident? Your route to obtaining compensation
New year, new home: tips to sell your home in the New Year
Tax Planning for your inheritance
Hearing loss: when your employer may be liable
Buying a home for your retirement, five things you need to consider
Farmers plan to diversify after Brexit
Ministers press ahead with probate fee shake-up - reports BBC News
Botched dental treatment? You may be entitled to compensation
Why a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney is a good idea
Will the new charge on building developments in Cornwall affect you?
Energy Performance Certificates – Do They Matter?
HMRC Challenging Stamp Duty Land Tax Payments
Ben Mitchell qualifies as a solicitor
The potential implications of Brexit on employment law
Appointing a guardian for your children
Houses in multiple occupation – new rules from October 2018
New Agriculture Bill published
Will Brexit affect my pension?
Dreaming of a holiday home? Sort out the legals before putting your feet up
Lasting Power of Attorney by Deborah Adams
Settled status after Brexit by Alexis Hager
How to choose an executor to administer your estate when you die
How overage agreements can boost profits from your land
Top tips for first-time buyers
How Could Brexit Affect My Farm?
Wills & Succession in Spain by Deborah Adams
Brexit – an international and local view by Alexis Hager, Litigation
Capital gains tax - important facts for non-residents of the UK
Buying a home: the importance of making sure the seller is entitled to sell
Changing a will after someone has died: it is possible and it could save you money
Your responsibilities when you have people working in your home
Sad passing of Battle of Britain pilot who served with Parnall family member
Considerations when buying a heritage property
Disciplinary proceedings at work: guide for employers
Employers should have a disciplinary process in place, but just following this may not be enough to avoid falling foul of the law and exposing yourself to the risk of an employment tribunal claim.