When you are writing your will, often the most difficult thing to decide upon is the arrangements you would make for the guardianship of your minor children. Incredibly upsetting as it is, it’s important to discuss what should happen to your children in the unlikely event that both parents were not around to care for them. It is, however, comforting to know that it is extremely rare for both parents to die before their children reach 18.
A Will is a perfect place to appoint a guardian for your children. This way you can choose to have your children cared for by someone you wish, in the way that you want, and not be at the mercy of the Court. This is especially important if there might be some disagreement as to whose family the children would be best off with after you were gone.
The Children Act (1989) S8 gives the Court discretion to make any order it deems in the best interest of the children in these circumstances. However by making a clear declaration in your will, the Court would have a valuable insight into what you would have wanted, and this will be very persuasive.
Anyone with Parental Responsibility can appoint a guardian, although appointing a guardian will not overrule the rights of anyone else with Parental Responsibility or what might be in the best interest of the child. An example of this might be if you have issues with your co-parent, but they are willing and able to take care of the child after your death – even if this might not be what you would have wanted personally.
Guardians of the children can access any trust funds for the maintenance and education of the children, with the Trustees’ approval. By ensuring these powers are in your Will, your guardians will not suffer financially as a result of caring for your children.