Godparents & Guardians: What is the difference?

Godparents & Guardians: What is the difference?

So, you may have appointed Godparents for your children, whether in a religious ceremony or informally, but…

  • what does that mean? 
  • does that impose a legal obligation?
  • should you still appoint guardians?
  • can your guardians and godparents be different?
  • how is best to protect your children should you no longer be around?

Let’s take a look at these questions and have a look at what would happen to your children should the awful situation arise that their parents were no longer able to take care of them whilst they are still a minor.

There is an important distinction between Godparents and Guardians…no matter what we would like to think or would like to happen in an ideal world.

So, first things first…Godparents have no legal right or obligation to take care of your children, either during your lifetime or when you are no longer around. However, Guardians (appointed in your Will) do have a legal responsibility to take care of your children when you are no longer able to.

What is the role of a Godparent?

Being asked to be a Godparent is an absolute privilege (having three godchildren myself, I should know :)) but what does it mean?

A Godparent, whether present at a Christening Ceremony or Baptism, or asked informally, take a spiritual responsibility for their Godchild, whether that be in relation to the religious upbringing and spiritual upbringing or just generally being a close influence and role model for the child.

Appointing Guardians

Even where you have appointed Godparents for your children, you should still be appointing Guardians for them in your Will to ensure that they are taken care of, as you intended and by the people you trust most, should the worst happen and you no longer be around.

Your Guardian will only step into the role of having parental responsibility for your child should something happen to both you and their other parent – even if you are divorced, or separated, parental responsibility will trump a Guardian appointed in a Will.

If you want some more information on choosing the right Guardians, why not check out our article, written by Neil on how he chose the Guardians for his children?

Can your Guardians and Godparents be the same?


Godparents are usually appointed when children are quite young and are rarely changed.

However, Guardians should be reviewed throughout your lifetime. The Guardians that you appoint when your children are young may be very different as they grow up and as the Guardians grow older too. For example, many people would choose their own parents as Guardians whilst their children are young, especially where you have a great relationship with your parents and they have an active role in their grandchild’s life, however, as your children grow up, your parents will grow older too and may not be able to take on the responsibility of bringing up your children should you no longer be around. That’s okay…your Guardians can be reviewed and changed at any time and we always recommend reviewing your Will every 3-5 years and so reviewing your Guardians at this time is ideal too.

Speaking to your proposed Guardians…

Speaking to your proposed Guardians may seem like a difficult conversation BUT imagine losing your loved ones and then finding out that you are now responsible for their children with NO PRIOR WARNING! Not ideal!

So, having that conversation with your proposed Guardians to discuss why you would like to appoint them and ensure they are comfortable with the decision and also to discuss any concerns or queries they may have so that everyone is on the same page is so important, not to mention being able to put everyone at ease and give you peace of mind.

It is important that your proposed Guardians know exactly what is involved and what their legal responsibilities are, as well as knowing how you want your children being brought up whether that be in relation to their education, home life, general welfare or anything else.

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.

Leah Waller

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