Are you risking your children’s future by doing nothing?
In your Will, you can nominate someone to be a legal guardian for your children, just in case the worst happens and you die before they reach 18.
Not sure who to choose?
If you haven’t made a will, or have not specified guardians, it’s not up to your family to decide what happens to your children. A court will decide for you who looks after your children and who manages their inheritance. Isn’t it better for you to choose someone you trust and who your children also know and trust?
What if you have God parents? They are not legal guardians, so they would still need to be named in a Will if you wish them to become guardians of your children.
Family members are often the most obvious choice. Perhaps a sister, brother, cousin or your parents? However, it may not always be practical or desirable to appoint family members, so you can name anyone you choose – perhaps close friends who have children of their own.
If you name a husband & wife as guardians, what happens if they separate or divorce? It may be better to just name the family member or friend without naming their spouse – just to be safe.
If you are leaving inheritance to your children (property, savings, insurance payout, etc) they cannot inherit this until they reach 18 years old. Trustees will need to look after their inheritance until they are adults and you can also nominate Trustees of your choosing in your Will. These can be the same people as the guardians, or can be different. What if the children need some funds released for housing or living costs? Trustees have some discretion to decide on this. There needs to be at least 2 people as Trustees. As the name suggests, choose people you trust.
- Can the guardians also be Trustees? Yes
- What if you prefer the Trustees to be someone other than the guardians? That’s ok. You can also do that and keep the finances separate if you prefer.
- Can you delay your child(ren) receiving any inheritance to later than 18 years old? Yes, many people specifiy age 21 or 25, but the Trustees will be able to release some funds earlier if this is appropriate.
- Can I also specify a ‘reserve’ guardian if the named guardian has also died, or is unable to act? Yes
Still not sure if you’ve made the right choice of guardians?
It’s better to have plans in place now that suit your current circumstances. E.g., your parents are the obvious choice now, but what if they become more frail and unable to look after the children? You can then amend your will and change the guardian(s) in a few years’ time if you wish or if circumstances change.
Are you separated or divorced?
If the other parent of your children has legal ‘parental responsibility’ they will be responsible for the children in the event of your death, but you can still specify trustees for any inheritance, and if the other parent has also died, then the guardians you specify will be the ones responsible for your children.