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What considerations should be made when choosing a guardian?

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcomed their first son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor to the world on Monday 6th May 2019. 

Like any new parents, now is definitely a time that they should look to reconsider their estate plans to make sure planning is up to date and no new family members will be disadvantaged. One of the key things to consider in an estate plan after the birth of a new child is Guardianship. 

A Guardian is a person who is appointed to take on the role of caring for your children in the tragic, and hopefully, unlikely event that you and your partner both died while they were under 18. The easiest way to make this appointment is by your Will

If you have children you’ve probably already given some thought to who you would like to take care of them should anything happen to you? You may have even discussed this with your friends and family and reached some kind of informal arrangements. But did you know that if you die without any formal arrangements in place only the court can actually appoint a guardian? In a worst-case scenario, this could mean your children must spend some time in the care of the Local Authority while the appropriate arrangements are made by the courts. 

At Nene Legal, our estate planning consultants can discuss making formal Guardianship arrangements in your will and can ensure that your will includes all of the necessary clauses to formally appoint Guardians for your children. This will give you peace of mind, knowing that in the event of your death your children will be taken care of by someone you know and trust, and who you yourself have chosen. 

if you have more specific wishes for how your Guardians should raise your children then we can help you include these wishes in your will, or if necessary draft you a separate letter of wishes to be kept with your will and be passed on to your Guardians. This gives you peace of mind knowing that not only will your children be cared for in the event of your death, but your Guardians will know exactly how you wish them to raise your children. 

Who can be a guardian?

This is up to you, but there are few key things you should bear in mind when choosing a Guardian:

1. What is your child’s relationship like with the person you wish to appoint?

2. Does the Guardian have children of their own?

3. Do they live in your area? Or will your children need to move home and school? 

4. The health and age of your Guardian. Your parents may be your first thought when it comes to choosing a Guardian but consider whether they would be physically able to care for young children should anything happen to you. 

5. How many Guardians should you appoint? If you are choosing multiple people, how will they deal with any disputes? Do you have a preference for who the children live with?

Of course, we also recommend that you discuss your wishes with the person or people you wish to appoint as Guardians before confirming your will. It’s important to make sure that your chosen Guardian is aware of the appointment and would be willing to act. 

It’s also important that you consider how your children should be provided for financially. You don’t want to place any unnecessary financial burden on your Guardians, but you need to make sure that funds are available for your children’s upbringing. One option is to leave some funds in trust for your children’s education and maintenance. See our information on ‘trusts’ 

Want to know more? Call Nene Legal on 01933 588990 to discuss how we can help you. 

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