Guardianship of your children after your death

If you were to die, leaving children under the age of 18 without a parent, someone will need to look after your children, known as guardians.

You can appoint guardians for children under 18 as part of your Will. This will ensure that if you die your children will be looked after by the people you choose unless there is any particular reason for the Courts to step in to protect the children.

If you do not appoint guardians in your Will, then the Courts will have to decide who should be appointed guardian of your children. By including this provision in your Will it can also help to avoid disputes between opposing family members who would all like to help. By stating your wishes in a Will you can make it clear exactly what you would like to happen.

Choosing the right guardians

When considering who to appoint as legal guardian for your children, you will need to consider the following:

  • Are they able to offer your children a stable family environment?
  • How do you feel about their values and parenting skills?
  • What is their present relationship with your children?
  • Are they willing and able to handle the responsibility of caring for your children on a long-term basis?
  • Are they good with money, or should someone else, maybe a professional, be in charge of the money your leave for your children?
  • Do you want your chosen guardian to consult with others, maybe family members, on certain aspects of the children’s lives?

What does a guardian have to do?

The main duties of a guardian include:

  • The day to day care of the children.
  • Making decisions about the children's upbringing, education, health and welfare.
  • If you have left a property or other financial assets in trust for your children, for them to inherit when they reach adulthood, often a guardian will also be one of the Trustees.

There are many things to consider when deciding on guardians. For more information and advice please contact us to speak to one of our experienced solicitors.