Increasing numbers of people are understanding the necessity of making a Will and that has to be a good thing. Everything is detailed in crystal clear clarity in line with the wishes of the Will maker but it’s vitally important that everything is considered to avoid any problems that may otherwise follow.
One of the most important considerations has to be what happens to younger children if both parents should die. It’s something that all too many people fail to think about – it’s something that won’t happen to them. But, unfortunately, it can and does happen all too frequently, providing another vital reason to make that Will.
The trauma of dealing with the death of their parents at such a young age is unimaginable but add to that an uncertain future with no one to take care of them and it’s clear why adequate provision needs to be made before it’s too late. This is where parental guardianship comes in.
A great deal of thought needs to be given to the choice of parental guardian and the difference between someone caring for the children and someone having parental responsibility.
Someone in a position of care but who doesn’t have parental responsibility is only expected to do what is reasonable in promoting and safeguarding the welfare of the child. Someone with parental responsibility has the same legal powers as a parent:
Things to consider
Any agreement on guardianship must be done formally between the parties in writing and be signed, dated and witnessed in line with legal requirements. Before drawing up your legal document about guardianship it is important to give serious thought to what will happen if:
- A married couple are named as guardians but they separate in the future.
- The surviving parent decides after the death of their partner to change the guardian. This will normally be left in the hands of the named guardian and surviving parent to arrive at a mutually agreeable decision made in the best interests of the children. If a decision can’t be reached then the matter will be left in the hands of the family court.
- It is decided to relocate a child to a different country after the parents die.
- The guardian and any named substitute become no longer able to take on the role.
It is also worth thinking about making provision for what happens if the parents get divorced. It is possible to set out conditions by which a guardian is appointed. This may include setting out specific wishes of both parents in certain sets of circumstances. A letter of wishes can also benefit trustees of a trust fund in knowing how parents want their children to be provided for financially.
Financial considerations are paramount to ensure the guardian will be in a position to raise the children in their charge in accordance with detailed inheritance instructions.
Guardians may be named as beneficiaries in a Will, or any monies from the estate of the deceased parents may be held in Trust, with payments for the benefits of the child made to the guardian by trustees.
There are many things to consider when planning for the best while taking into account the very worst that can happen and your children being left without their parents to guide them through to adulthood. By seeking sound, professional advice, you can ensure your children are adequately cared for in accordance with your wishes after you’re gone.