Did you know that every 22 minutes a parent in the UK dies leaving dependent children? In fact, statistics show that sadly, 1 in 20 children will have lost at least one parent before they turn 16.
Unfortunately, many parents are unaware that a Will is required to ensure that someone has the legal authority to take care of their children if they are no longer here. This would include matters such as where your children should live, what school they should attend, medical appointments and treatment, and applying for official documents such as Passports.
It is essential that you put arrangements in place during your lifetime that will guarantee immediate and appropriate care for your children in the event of your death.
“The child’s father will automatically become legal guardian if the mother dies”
The child’s father will only become the legal guardian automatically if he has parental responsibility. Parental responsibility is gained by marrying the mother, by being listed on the birth certificate, or by getting a court order. If the child’s father does not have parental responsibility, he won’t automatically become the legal guardian.
“My mother will look after my children”
If you do not have a Will appointing your mother as guardian, this will not automatically happen. It may be necessary to apply to court for approval before your mother is appointed as guardian. There is also a risk that children may be taken into care while guardianship is clarified.
“My ex-husband or wife doesn’t spend time with their children, I don’t want them to be guardian.”
If the child’s mother and father were married when the child was born, they have parental responsibility. This means that they will automatically be the child’s guardian if you die. They may not want to exercise this parental responsibility, however, so appointing a guardian in your Will is still important, just in case.
“The mother and father want to appoint different guardians – the children’s guardian will be the one appointed by the Will of the last to die.”
This is not the case. If the parents appoint different guardians, they must agree on decisions relating to the children, and if they can’t, it will be for the court to decide.
“I don’t need to appoint a guardian, I appointed godparents when my children were christened.”
While godparents can have a pivotal role in the upbringing of children, they have no legal rights in respect of children in the event that their parents die. If you want your children’s godparents to also be their legal guardians, you should make such an appointment by Will.
Please contact us for further information, or if you would like to make an appointment to discuss the preparation of your Will.