Should I appoint a legal guardian for my children?
If you have young children, this in itself makes it sufficiently important to make a Will, regardless of whether or not you own any property. You can use your Will to appoint guardians to look after any children you have when you die, if they are below the legal age to live on their own.
If you die intestate, or without a guardianship clause in your Will, the authorities will decide who should look after your children. The person(s) appointed by the local authorities could be your partner and natural parent of the child, grandparents or others, deemed suitable, but who may not have been those of your choosing.
This means there is a risk that a distressing and difficult time for your children and other family members could be intensified. You can remove this risk by making a Will, in order to appoint a guardian.
Who should I elect to be the Guardian of my Children?
It is common to appoint family members as your child’s guardian, in the event that the parent dies before the child reaches 18. Many will choose grandparents, because of the commonly close family relationship, but you can appoint anyone that you trust, and believe would have the ability, to look after your children.
It is advisable to consult with your preferred choice of guardian(s) to determine whether or not they are prepared to take on the role, if required.
The responsibilities of the guardian(s) will be the day-to-day care, responsibility and upbringing of your child or children. You can leave a letter, or other document, setting out your wishes, in relation to the specific care of your children: this could be of great assistance to your guardians and, indirectly, to your children.
It is advisable to appoint two guardians, to ensure, as far as possible, that your child or children will have a settled family environment, particularly following your death.