Who becomes my child's guardian if I die?
As a parent with parental responsibility, you can appoint a legal guardian in your Will
to look after your child if you die. For a parent, the idea of passing away before their child reaches adulthood is agonising.
Who is a legal guardian?
A legal guardian is a person with the legal authority to provide care for a child and make decisions for them when a parent is unable to do so due to circumstances like ill health, a disability, or the parent’s death.
Usually, if a parent dies, the surviving parent will assume responsibility for the child or children. However, if both parents die before the child turns 18, the legal guardian you appointed in your Will assumes the legal responsibility for the care and upbringing of your child.
If you did not appoint legal guardians for your children in your Will and they become orphans before they turn 18 years old, the court will do so.
How to choose a legal guardian for your children
It is important to consider who will be more suitable to look after your children if you die. In most cases, parents name close family members they trust as their children's guardians.
However, whether you are considering appointing a sibling or a grandparent, here are some questions to give careful thought to when choosing a legal guardian for your children:
- Are they responsible adults?
- Would they be willing to provide long-term care for your children?
- Do they hold the same values concerning how you would like your children to be raised?
- Do they currently have or intend to have children, and how might this impact the situation?
- Do they live nearby, and would it disrupt your child's daily routine, such as the school they attend and the sport they enjoy?
How to appoint a legal guardian in your Will
Once you have chosen the legal guardian of your child, it is necessary to discuss with them their interests and availability. After they have agreed to take responsibility for your child upon your death, you need to include their name as the legal guardian of your child in your Will. Make sure to sign your Will according to strict legal requirements to ensure it is valid.
What are the responsibilities of a legal guardian?
A legal guardian takes on the duties of a parent in raising and caring for a child until they become adults. It is also the responsibility of a legal guardian to make decisions in the best interest of the child. You should write down the guardian’s responsibilities in your Will or an informal letter, ensuring that they are in line with your wishes for your child’s upbringing. This should include issues regarding:
- Food and nutrition
- Religious practice
What are the rights of stepparents?
Stepparents can only appoint a legal guardian for their stepchildren if they have parental responsibility for them. If your partner dies, you do not automatically have legal responsibility for your stepchildren. Your partner must name you as a legal guardian in their Will for you to have legal responsibility for your stepchildren.
How Can GloverPriest Help?
At GloverPriest, we provide friendly and transparent family law advice. If you would like further help, please don’t hesitate to speak to one of our expert family lawyers today. Complete our enquiry form.