How to choose a guardian for your children

One topic most of us would probably be happy to avoid is thinking about is what life will be like when we’re not around. However, that should not stop us from making important legal arrangements for our children if this were to happen.  A legal guardian is someone who takes charge of bringing up children in cases where the parents are deceased before the children come of age legally speaking. Here’s a quick overview of why and how to select a guardian for your children.

What is the best way to select a legal guardian?

Choosing a legal guardian is challenging for many parents. Some couples decide to draw up a shortlist of possible guardians and then go through points for and against each one. Some questions you may like to consider to help with this process include:

  • Are they similar to how you parent and look at the world?
  • Do they already have their own children?
  • Do they have the space to accommodate extra children?
  • Do they live nearby or would your children have to relocate?
  • Are their finances comfortable?
  • Are their relationships stable?
  • If you have more than one child, would your children be able to stay together?

Thin the shortlist down to a single choice and then make a backup selection in case the first person cannot take on the responsibility.

What is the formal process for nominating the guardian?

The initial stage involves talking to your first choice guardian to see if they are willing to take on the role. If for whatever reason they are not in a position to say yes, then obviously you move to the second and following options on your list. Once you have a selected guardian in place, a will should be drawn up which names the guardian. Ideally, both parents need to name the same guardian in a will. Make sure you get the will written up professionally by a solicitor to avoid the possibility of errors.

What happens if I don’t legally select a guardian for my children?

In cases where parents are deceased and don’t provide specific directions for guardianship, the final decision sits with the Family Court.  Anyone with some kind of involvement or connection to the children can make an application to become the guardian.  The court will make a ruling that prioritises the interests of the children above other considerations, this situation is far from ideal.  The guardian may end up being someone that you yourself would not select.

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