THE ROLE OF A GUARDIAN
The act of appointing Guardians when a Will is made ensures that young children do not have to be placed into care until the Court appoints official Guardians to look after them, saving the children and family members from further distress at such a difficult time.
The role of a Guardian is a very important one. When you are appointed as a legal guardian you are responsible for the wellbeing and safety of those children under your guardianship. Being a Guardian includes making sure that the children are fed, clothed, attend school and looked after in the same way they would be if their parents were around to do so. It will be your responsibility to ensure that they are properly supervised throughout their lives until they reach adulthood.
The role of a Guardian is a very responsible one and should not be entered into lightly. There will be financial, social and emotional implications when taking on such a vast role and the matter should be discussed in detail between the Testator and the appointed Guardians.
The cost of raising children is ever on the increase and whilst many parents will have ensured that financial support is in place for their children in the event of their death, this is a major factor when deciding to take on the role of a Guardian and so should be fully discussed. You may be able to claim child benefit and receive a Guardian allowance in the event that both parents are deceased.
Some things to consider:
- Guardians take on the role of parent to your children
- Failing to name Guardians in a Will means that the care of minor children will be decided by the Courts
- It should be made certain that the persons named who will be responsible for bringing up the children are willing to do so
- Financial provision should be made for the children to enable the Guardians to raise them
- It is best to consider the age of the Guardians and to appoint more than one
- Guardians should also make a Will themselves to further safeguard the future of the children
Who should act as a Guardian
The normal choice is to appoint family members, particularly where very young children are involved. As children grow, the appointment of friends may be more appropriate as they are more likely to share the deceased parents lifestyle and ideas.
The age of the Guardians should always be considered and it is advisable to appoint more than one to avoid potential problems which may arise from ill health, death, etc.
It is usual (but not essential) that the same persons are appointed Guardians of all the Testator’s minor children. When the Guardians are to act only after the death of the surviving parent it is desirable that each parent should appoint the same persons to act as Guardian. It is important that the Testator obtains the consent of any proposed Guardian before making the appointment.
The Law has certain requirements, particularly where the parents are unmarried, divorced or separated. Assuming that either parent has the power to appoint a Guardian on their death, it is usual for such appointments to take effect on the death of the second parent. Where one parent is alive and you are still called upon to act as Guardian, the situation can obviously be more complicated. There are circumstances under which the Guardian will be called upon when both parents are not deceased in certain cases where:
- A surviving parent is unable to perform their role because they are overseas, in the army, in prison, disabled or mentally incapacitated, or after death of the first parent if they refuse responsibility.
- A couple are separated or divorced and just one of the parents dies. The Guardian will act with the surviving parent and should disputes arise, they will have to be settled by the Court. The surviving parent is still to be the statutory Guardian.
We hope we’ve answer some of your questions about what is the role of a guardian. If you need any further help or have any questions please contact us now.