When making a Will, appointing guardians for your children needs careful consideration. Deciding who you would like to bring up your children is likely not to be easy, however the thought of knowing that someone you trust will be looking after them after you've gone should certainly bring some comfort to the matter. After all, the alternative is letting the courts decide on their guardians, something that surely any parent would wish to avoid.
The appointee will only become the child's guardian if at the death of the testator:
- no parent with parental responsibility survived him/her; or
- There was a residence order in his/her sole favour relating to the child.
It may seem obvious, but when appointing guardians in your will, it is always advisable that you seek the consent of those you wish to appoint, prior to naming them in your Will.The loss of a friend or family member can be shocking enough without unexpectedly having to take responsibility for the children. You may also want to consider leaving a gift to the children in the Wills. This may be paid to the guardians to use towards the maintenance, education and benefit of the children while they are minors.
Having appointed guardians for your children, you may also want to think about writing a letter of wishes to lay out how you want your children to be raised specifically. You could perhaps express how you wish for your children to continue with certain activities and give guidelines regarding their religion and education. Remember though that a letter of wishes is not legally binding and cannot be enforced and so it is advisable when appointing guardians that you choose someone who will follow the wishes you have set out.