publication date: Apr 25, 2007
of adults never make a will
and of those who do, many do not appoint
someone to look after
their children in the event of their death. Godparents
have no legal status
and you may not have chosen them with a view to taking over the parenting role
in the event of your death.
If both parents
of a child under 18
die and no guardian
has been mentioned in the will, then Social Services
will appoint someone - usually from family
and close friends.
However they may choose someone you would not
have asked so it is important
for you to think carefully and make your own choice
. You should also be aware that an unmarried father
who has not applied for parental responsibility
cannot nominate a guardian.
Many people nominate family members
but there may be good reasons why you shouldn’t: grandparents might be in poor health,
a sister or brother might live too far away
or you might not get on with them. You need to feel confident
that the person you choose will look after the best interests
of your children and will effectively act as their parents.
Of course the potential
guardian must agree to be nominated
but even so they are free, in the event of your death, to change their minds,
so you need to be as sure
of someone as you can be.
Whomever you decide on, it is wise to tell
your parents and siblings and introduce
them if they don’t already know each other. That will make life easier
for your kids - the last thing they need is family contesting guardianship
in the courts which has been known to happen!
Points to consider
Ideally a guardian should:
Making it formal
- Already know your children and get on well with them.
- Live in the same area so your children’s lives are less disrupted at a time when they will need the support of their friends and familiar routines.
- Be of similar age to yourself.
- Have similar ideas to you on child rearing.
- Be someone whose children, should they have any, get on well with yours.
- Have the same approach to discipline as you do - the way they react to your children is a good pointer.
- Be able to cope with your children’s grief and help them work through it.
- Have similar expectations to you.
arrangements are not legally binding
but it is sufficient to write your wishes down on a piece of paper which you date and sign
in the presence of two witnesses
who also sign the paper. However the Law Society
recommends that you make a will and appoint a guardian
at the same time as you are working out the financial aspects. You can find out about solicitors
in your area
from the Law Society website www.lawsociety.org.uk/ which also gives helpful information about how to choose
one. Of course personal recommendation
from a friend or family member is always an option but remember someone who suits them may not
appeal to you.