If you’re a parent, one of the most important inclusions in your will is naming a “Guardian”. A Guardian is someone you’d trust most to care for your child/children in the event of your death before they reach adulthood. You can appoint anyone you choose to be the legal Guardian of your child. Most often the Guardian is related to the child in some way.
What does being a Guardian entail?
A legal Guardian takes over the job of a parent. This includes:
- Legal responsibility for the care and custody of the child
- All the powers, rights and duties that you have as parents
- Ensuring the child’s personal well-being
- Protecting child’s financial interests.
If you wish for a relative to take care of your child in the event of your death, they will need to be legally named Guardian. Failure to name them as a Guardian can limit their ability to on the child’s behalf. This includes accessing health care, signing legal documents, or obtaining other child-related services.
Who can name a Guardian?
Both of a child’s parents have the right to name a Guardian(s). Guardianship usually only comes into operation if both parents die. You can specify in your will that you would like to appoint a Guardian to act jointly with your child’s other surviving parent. In this instance it is best to discuss this wish with the child’s other parent before writing your will. Ideally the named Guardian will be someone that you can both agree upon. If there are any disputes over guardianship, a court of law will adjudicate and act in the manner that will best serve the interests of the child.
Who should I name as Guardian?
The decision who to name as Guardian is a personal choice. Your named Guardian should be someone who:
- You trust to look after your child
- Your child will be happy with
- Is responsible, reliable and trustworthy
- Is empathetic to the child’s personal needs
- Will act in the best interests of your child
- Is aware of (and happy with) your intention to appoint them as Guardian
Determining child custody in your will can be quite a confronting process. However, it is necessary to name a Guardian to protect your child if the worst were to happen.