Guardianship is often a very difficult consideration. The thought of who your children are going to be raised by in the event that anything happens to you can be completely overwhelming, but it is part of being a responsible parent.
Should your children be left orphaned without any pre-arranged guardianship in place, they will automatically become what is known as a Ward of the Court. This is where social services will make their recommendation, in Court, to a Judge. The Judge will then decide, based on all the information they have, who will raise your children. Whilst final approval of your children’s Guardians has to be made by officials, your wishes being documented will speed up the process, giving your children security quicker.
Making decisions for the future
If you have a Will you can specify who will have guardianship and therefore raise your children in your place. We can’t emphasis enough how important it is to make sure that everyone involved in this process is 100% comfortable and onboard with the decision. Most friends and family members will normally agree to the situation as an act of complete kindness. However, many will not consider the huge changes it will have on their own lives and that of the new family group.
Within your Will you have the options to arrange Trusts. These can be put in place to cover the cost of raising your children. You can also make requests such as what kind of education you would like your children to receive, any religious preferences and at what age you would like them to inherit any estate left to them.
You may also choose to leave a letter of wishes with your Will outlining your various feelings on things relating to raising your children.
Things to consider when appointing guardians include:
Grandparents may seem like the obvious choice when it comes to Guardianship. However, many of us are having children later in life. This can mean grandparents may not be of an age to be able or indeed want to look after young children long term.
The implications of relocating your children from all they know at a traumatic time in their lives should be carefully considered.
If you follow a certain faith, and want your children to share your beliefs you may want to consider carefully whether your chosen guardian shares those beliefs or is willing to bring up your children to share your feelings.
Everyone who has children should have life insurance in place. This should go someway towards relieving the financial strain that the death of family wage earners creates. However, if you are asking someone to raise your children for you, consider what the financial impact of this will be. According to the Child Poverty Action Group the average cost of raising a child from birth to 18 in 2021 is £152,747 rising to £185,413 for a lone parent. Plunging a previously well catered for child into poverty is entirely preventable with careful planning.
It is important to remember that if your children have Godparents they are in no way legally responsible for raising your children in your absence and pre-arranged guardianship still needs to be in place regardless of Godparents and guardians potentially being the same people.
We can draft straightforward single or mirror Wills, including guardianship for £150/ £200 respectively. When you consider the overall cost of raising children it is impossible to argue against having this in place.
What about the Pets?
When it comes to your Will, your pet is considered to be your personal property. The exception to this is if the pet is a working animal, in which case they might be considered as part of a business.
Although you can’t leave money to your pet in your will, you can nominate someone to look after them and gift money to that person to cover the their ongoing expenses.
Letters of wishes have become popular over recent years, this is a documented list of instructions and information allowing the new carer to understand the latest addition to the family. The main purposes for this are to provide vital information about medical and dietary needs, however you can also give instructions as to how you would like the pet cared for going forward.