Saturday, April 11, 2009

Making Your Will - Who Should Act As Guardians?

Making your Will means that you will need to consider who should be the guardians of any children that you have who are under the age of 18 years of age. It is usual for such appointments to take effect on the death of the second parent.

Guardians essentially have the same duties as of a parent. They are responsible for the every day upbringing of your child, the organisation of holidays, birthday presents and all the day to day things that we take for granted.

The usual route is to appoint family members. This is even more usual particularly where very young children are involved. The appointment of friends may be more appropriate if the children are older. This is because they are more likely to share your lifestyle and, in these modern times or people relocating more frequently, to live nearer than your family.

You should be careful about how many Guardians that you appoint. The temptation is to appoint a 'general committee' of all the grandparents, brothers and sisters, and so on. However, this has disadvantages in that the well being of your children, the most crucial issue, may become overlooked or difficult to manage.

It is far better to limit the number of guardians to two. It is also preferable that they share a home as husband and wife or partners. This way, your children will become part of a familiar and stable environment at which might well be the most difficult time of their lives.

You should also consider appointing a substitute guardian(s) when making your Will and this will ensure continuity of care should the situation change.

The instructions in the Will should allow that the executors can do all that is necessary to assist in financial terms. You can also use an "expression of your wishes" in an informal letter to the trustees to tell them how you would like your child or children to be brought up. This will help steer them in the direction that you would choose but please bear in mind that you should try to avoid stipulating too much detail about this matter as it might make life for both Guardians and children difficult. Think about how much life has changed in the last 5 to ten years and how difficult it would be to give detailed instructions about bringing up a child over that time period.

It might be better to give example and to concentrate on the philosophy you would apply rather than instructions about specific matters.

The most important thing, though, is to give thought and name your chosen Guardians when making your Will. You might be surprised that the Courts and authorities would not choose the same people to carry out this function that you would, so make your wishes clear!

John Higgins writes about financial matters. You can find out much more about Making Your Will at

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