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Choosing Your Children's Guardians

Preparing for Death

Choosing your Children's Guardians

We don’t like thinking about worst case scenarios but we know that they can happen. One of those worst case scenarios is you no longer being there for your children. If that was to happen, then you'll want to have a guardian in place who will be able to take care of them.

There is plenty to think about before you choose a guardian. Not only that, but you also want to ensure your wishes are legally bound. Here we will go through that and all the information you need when it comes to choosing your children's guardian.

What happens if no guardian is named?

If a child no longer has a legal guardian then it will be up to the courts to decide who their future guardian should be. The groundwork for this would be completed by the social services. They will take a close look at potential guardians before advising the court on their findings.

This can be frustrating as even if the right guardian for a child is fairly obvious, the process needs to play out. The court will decide what they think the best interests of the child are but they may get this wrong and it may not be what you would have decided. This is why it’s vital to name a guardian.

Choosing a guardian for my children

Before working out whether or not someone would be suitable, it's a good idea to get a feel of what you're looking for. Are religious views important? What type of values do you think are important? Ideally, you'd want to choose someone who would parent in the same style as you.

Even if your answer may seem obvious, it’s good to get a list of candidates. This is usually the likes of your parents and siblings but you shouldn’t rule out more distant relatives or even friends. If you have a definite main choice, it’s also a good idea to have a back up.

Key questions to ask yourself

As you decide on who should be your children’s guardian, it’s good to ask yourself these key questions which should give you a clear picture.

What would my kids want?

Where would your kids want to end up? While you may think that someone else may be in their best interests, it’s good to take their views into account. Whoever it may be, you’ll want them to already have a good relationship.

Are they capable?

Quite simply, can they do it? Perhaps your preference already has numerous kids of their own and taking care of yours would be too much. If you’re thinking of a grandparent, do they have the energy for such a task? At a basic level, you need to think about if your proposed candidate would actually be able to do it.

Do they have the means?

You may think you've made the perfect choice but what if they don't have the means for it? Children can cost a lot of money and if they are only just making ends meet, then further children may not be financially realistic. Also, do they have space in their home? If they have other children, it may already be at capacity.

What will day-to-day life be like?

Try to put yourself in your child’s shoes. What will their day be like and how different will it be to their current routine. Ideally, you’d want there to be as little change as possible. If you’re choosing someone with a different parenting style then it could be very different.

Will there be a change of location?

Location is going to be an important factor. Will they have to change schools? Will they still be close to other family members they love? A sibling in another part of the country may be too big a change for them, or it could be the only feasible option.

Will they love your child?

Crucially, are they going to look after and care for your child as if they were one of their own? While the other questions are important, you want your child to be loved. Hopefully, many candidates fit this description

Ask permission

When looking at guardians for kids, it’s important to ask permission first. It would be awkward if you name a guardian only for them to be incapable for one reason or another. The best idea is to sit down with a potential guardian and see if they are willing to do it.

As well as a primary choice, it’s good to have a back up. If something happened to your primary choice then your wishes would suddenly become invalid. If you are having a back up guardian then you’ll want to ask their permission too.

Put it in your will

Once you have done all of the above, you'll want to make it legal and that means putting it into your will. You should dedicate a section to who should be the guardian of your children if both of their parents pass away.

As well as doing this, you may also want to consider making a financial provision for the guardians in either your will, life insurance policy or both. This can make the transition process easier and allow them to also support your child financially.

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