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How do you choose Guardians for your children?

Apr 1, 2019

It’s no fun thinking the unthinkable. But, when you’re setting out your will, you need to think carefully about choosing a guardian for your children. This is an ‘essential’ - not something you can put off, because  - ‘Oh well - it’ll never happen’.

Getting the decision made is vital for two reasons -

  1. The future welfare, security and happiness of your children
  2. Your own peace of mind


 

In case the worst happens.

For the sake of simplicity, in this blog, we’ll refer to ‘children’, not ‘child’.

The prospect of someone else bringing up your children is not a pleasant thought. However, if you and your partner/spouse were both to die or become totally incapacitated, then you’d surely want to ensure that your children are in safe, caring hands. That’s why you should pick a legal guardian, just in case the worst happens - and it can - someone who would raise and care for your loved ones at least until the age of 18.

Are you thinking, ‘Well, if the worst does happen, the courts will see the kids are OK’? Don’t be sure. You might not like their choice.

There’s plenty to mull over as you and your partner consider your options. Of course, you’ll be looking for someone who would care for and love your children as much as you do, but you also be wanting to choose someone who will be responsible in their approach to life - both at home and at work. You’ll also be considering more than one choice, in case your original is unwilling or unable to do the job.

Here are just a handful of the factors you should be thinking about

Do you have to choose a couple?
When picking a guardian, It might seem obvious to go for a married couple. Surely they’ll be more stable and reliable than a footloose and fancy-free singleton. But consider this - Divorce. Imagine traumas your children could suffer, living in an unhappy home (on top of having lost their original parents). So, think about picking just one person. Either that, or choose in advance which of the couple you’d like to be your children’s guardian, in the event of a split. Also, it’s worth thinking about the couple’s children. Will yours become lost in their new family? Will they fit in?

What about values?
Do you want your children to be brought up in a certain religion? Might faith be a factor for you? Perhaps you should think also about your chosen guardian’s views on education, parenting and their morals in general.

Have you thought about long-distance relatives?
Location matters. Think about where your proposed guardian lives. Would a move to another region or town add further stress to your children? On the other hand, might it not be possible that, if their guardian is clearly the most suitable, your children would soon learn to adapt? After all, it’s well-known how resilient most children can be?

Health and age
Maybe you’re determined to choose your own parents to be guardians. Evidence shows they can make excellent guardians. But, shouldn’t you consider their age and their health? Will they be physically and mentally capable of charging around after a toddler or dealing with teenage traumas? Also, consider the age difference of your children. When you’re in a second marriage, a significant age gap is often the norm. In this instance, would your parents necessarily be the right choice?

Consider finance and family relations
Does your potential guardian have a reliable job? Is it one that entails lots of time away from home? Do they own a home? None of these factors might particularly matter, but you should think about each one - carefully. There’s also the question of how healthy relations are between your proposed guardians and other family members.

Division of labour
You might have decided upon the perfect guardian for your children - but what if they’re not great with money? You could invite a second guardian to look after your children’s financial affairs and their inheritance.

Here to help

So - there’s clearly plenty to think about when choosing a potential guardian for your children. If you’re unsure about any of the matters raised here, then please do call - 01234 713021 - or drop me an email.  I’d welcome the chance to help.

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