The importance of appointing a guardian for your children
The journey to becoming a parent is both emotional and life-changing. With so much excitement and planning involved along the way, it is hardly surprising that most people do not consider appointing a guardian or drafting a Will at what is a very important stage of their lives.
If there was one person in the world you could trust to bring up your child, who would it be?
This is a difficult question, and one which can prevent people from finalising their Wills. Making a decision about who to appoint as a legal guardian takes time, but leaving it to chance is, unfortunately, the alternative. If you die without a valid guardianship appointment, it can be for the court to decide who should bring up your child, up to the age of 18.
Making a Will allows you to take control over your affairs and specify who you would like to bring up your child. It does not mean that the person you appoint will have any control or influence over your child during your lifetime, as the appointment only takes effect on your death and only when there is no-one else alive with parental responsibility.
How would you like your child to be brought up?
Fortunately, the appointment of a guardian is much more than a simple reference in a Will.
It can be supplemented by a letter of wishes, setting out how you would like your child to be brought up. This can include a whole range of different things, from the kind of education you would like them to have, to sports, activities or hobbies you would like them to take part in. You can even specify which family members and friends you would like your child to be kept in touch with.
It is a very personal letter and, although not legally binding, it can be very useful for the person responsible for bringing up your child.
Should I make a Will?
A guardianship appointment only needs to be in writing and signed and dated to be valid. However it is worth thinking about including this in your Will as this also takes into account other aspects of the administration of your estate such as who your executors/trustees will be as they will be responsible for dealing with the estate funds and releasing money to the guardian.
For more information or advice please contact Yousafa Hazara.
Howard Kennedy will be exhibiting at The Fertility Show 2018 at Olympia London on 3-4 November. Yousafa will be on hand to provide straightforward legal advice to individuals and couples who are looking to build and complete their family through surrogacy, IVF or adoption. Find out more about the exhibition here.