How I chose the guardians for my children...
When choosing to put guardians in your Will what should you consider?
Often, when we are taking instructions from our clients, the conversation around putting guardians in place is one of the toughest.
For many, the main reason for getting their Will sorted is heavily influenced by who should look after their children if the worst happened. As a parent, it is especially hard to imagine someone else bringing up your children, nobody wants to think about what will happen if they are not around, but it is always worthwhile planning for and having measures in place should the tragic situation arise.
So, who is best to choose as guardians, what should you consider and how is best to tackle this difficult consideration and the conversation with your proposed guardians?
Using my own circumstances as an example, when I put my Will in place, I had to consider all of the following:
1) Where would my children like to be (who with and location) if both of their parents were no longer around to look after them?
2) Friends; I thought that during this tricky time of grief, my children would need to remain with as close to a normal routine as possible. Location was key to this so they can keep contact with friends, remain at a school they are familiar with, have family close to them and continue with clubs and activities they are used to and enjoy. This is not possible for everyone but was a consideration for me.
3) Stability; choosing guardians that are able to look after my children until they are 18 and/or no longer need guardians was extremely important. Faced with the loss of their parents and moving in with guardians once is traumatic and I wouldn’t want this to happen again should their chosen guardians not be around until they reached an age they could live independently.
4) The age of my proposed guardians; if the worst should happen now, it may be ok for my parents to cope with looking after my children, but what happens in 10 years’ time, will my parents be too old to cope or will it be too much for them?
5) Am I burdening someone with the challenge of bringing up two (possibly additional) children?
6) How will I finance my children through schooling and further education if I no longer had a regular wage coming in, I couldn’t expect someone to take on the responsibility of looking after my children and the added financial burden too?
All of these thoughts and worries ran through my head and I have always been a believer in the phrase “never ask someone to do something for you that you wouldn’t do in return for them”.
After careful consideration with my wife, we decided that the best person to be guardian of our children, should the circumstances occur, was my sister.
I wanted to have the conversation with my sister to ensure she was okay with this decision and once I had that conversation she was honoured and relieved that I had asked and had said that it was something that had been playing on her mind for a while but didn’t want to address it.
My sister also asked if I would be guardian to her children and this prompted her to put her Will in place soon after.
It was important to me to consider location; if my sister was a hundred miles away or even in a different country, would I have made the same decision? Probably not. Would I have wanted to put the burden on my parents? Would I look to a friend to be guardians of my children? There is a lot to consider all whilst bearing in mind what is best for my children. Then I had to consider reserve guardians, what if my sister was not willing to act if the time came, or she was no longer around. I went through the same considerations when putting my reserve guardians in place to cover this eventuality.
One thing playing on my mind when I first began planning my Will and who I would appoint as guardians was, if I don’t plan, prepare and choose guardians, who will?
In circumstances where guardians have not been named in a Will, and no provision has been made for the children, the responsibility falls to the Local Authority to place children with guardians. The Local Authority have a duty to take care of the children’s best interests whilst making their decision, but this could take time and there is a possibility of being placed in temporary care whilst this process takes place. A harrowing thought that urged me to get my wishes written in my Will.
Like most of our clients, when I finally signed my Will, I felt a relief that despite what the future holds for me, I have taken the precautionary measures to ensure my children are looked after by the right people.
The lesson I learnt when dealing with this was that it’s always best to have these conversations and speak openly about your concerns. We managed to resolve two issues in one; guardians for both my children and my nephews.
I’m not saying that this is the solution for everyone and other family dynamics are different but, having these conversations are always worthwhile and ensuring that those people that you would like as your guardians understand the responsibility and are happy with the decision.
If you would like to discuss your Will and potential Guardians, call us on 01727 865 121 or email us at info@TotalLegacyCare.co.uk for a free discussion on how we can help.
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