So you have been blessed with the joy of children, but who would feel equally blessed to take them on should the unthinkable happen?
If you have already appointed God Parents for your children you may think you have this area covered but this is not the case, you should still specify who you wish to be your children’s guardian on your death in your Will, although you may well choose the same people.
The appointment of the right guardians for your children in the event of your death is one of the most important decisions you can make regarding your future. You need to select someone that the children feel comfortable and safe with, and that you trust implicitly. Ideally they should have a good understanding of your religious, moral and ethical beliefs, and hopefully share those beliefs to be able to raise your child as you planned to do yourself.
You should consider the family life of the guardians themselves, if they have children themselves, do they get along with your own? This will be important in ensuring that your children settle well into a new family life. Do the guardians feel that they could manage their new significantly increased family if needed?
If your guardians don’t already have children themselves, are they very career driven, could they be available at the times your child needs, and if not, would your estate be able to fund the childcare needed.
Do your guardians live close enough to enable your children to continue to attend their current school and maintain contact with their friends and other significant family members? If they do not, would they be willing or able to move? Likely to be more of an issue if they have children of their own at home.
How old are your guardians, do they have the levels of energy and health to be able to care for your child, a grandparent may seem the ideal choice but if their health is fading, are they likely to be able to support your child until they are old enough to care for themselves. While an older person may enjoy a weekly or even more regular visit, could they take on the role of 24 hour parent? If your guardians are younger, are they likely to have more children themselves and be unable to care for yours alongside their own.
What sort of lifestyle do your guardians have, do they spend a lot of time abroad, you may think a jet setting lifestyle sounds like something your child would enjoy, but what about school? What steps would need to be put in place to ensure your child’s schooling was not disrupted.
Last but by no means least, does your child have a beloved pet that they cannot be parted from, and if so, would your guardian be willing and able to take them on too?
Once you have decided on your Guardians, you also need to consider what financial assistance they will need from your estate to be able to raise your children in the manner you hope, ideally without having to limit their own lifestyle. A well drafted Will can provide the flexibility for funds to be made available from your estate, but you should also consider if further provision in the form of Life Insurance is required.
Asking someone to be your child’s guardian may feel like a difficult discussion to have but it is important that you do and that the practicalities are discussed in full and kept under constant review. It can be all too easy for an intended guardian to accept without a second thought, but if they have not fully considered the role and the implications then things may not turn out as well as you hoped.
Some of the points to discuss are set out in this article but the considerations will vary from family to family.
Talk to Tollers, Kirstie Brownbill from the Trusts and Estates team who can help to ensure that you have fully considered your options and that your wishes will be taken into account on your death.