Can I Appoint A Legal Guardian For My Children In Case I Die?
Posted on 12th May 2020
Tragic, unforeseen circumstances, including accidents, illness and other highly-unfortunate events, often lead us to think about what would happen if we died. Quite often, parents will approach our expert family law solicitors in Preston and Lancaster, with concerns about who their children would live with, and how they would be cared for, if they were no longer around. On the face of it, we are the first to agreed that such a topic is somewhat morbid; but if one fails to prepare, and the unexpected does happen, the ramifications for your children can be devastating for them.
Most of the people who approach our solicitors in Longridge, Preston, or Lancaster, presume that, if they die, their children would be looked after by their family, whether this be their spouse, partner, siblings or parents. Moreover, the majority of people would be happy with this presumption.
However, this would not always be the case. Quite often, it would be up to the decision of the Court about who the child should live with, if the parent or parents do not put in place the necessary arrangements. Currently, and we cannot make this any clearer, there is no legal presumption that a child must live with their other biological parent, if the other passes away.
The Court will need to consider the welfare of the child/children, ensuring that they think about the physical and emotional needs of the child, and who would best meet these. There will be times when the best option is, in fact, the other surviving parent. However, it may be that another family member, or friends, are the most suitable option. Depending on the age and matureness of the child concerned, the Court may also consider their opinion about where they want to live.
If you’re a single parent, whose children have had no contact with their biological parent (or a person with parental responsibility) for a number of years, you will definitely want to consider ensuring that there are sufficient steps taken to care for your children.
Do I need to go to Court?
One legal route you may want to consider is making an application for an Order, protecting your child’s future contact with the other parent. Of course, it’s always best to agree contact between your children and their other parent as amicably as possible, especially if the arrangements are only needing to be made in light of a bereavement.
You can read more about child arrangement orders on our family law solicitor’s blog, here.
Can I put arrangements in place without going to Court?
Another option which you could consider is including a clause in your Will, stipulating who should look after your children.
Our team of Wills, Probate and Trust solicitors offer fixed-fee Will drafting, which would include any clauses about Guardianship of your children, for £110.00 plus VAT.
If you wished to include any details about how you wish to raise your children, such as schooling, eating habits or who they should have contact with, you can include a letter alongside your Will addressed to your appointed guardians outlining any wishes.
One thing to consider with this option, however, is that if your child does not see their other parent, and you do not wish for them to be able to care for your child, you may need to ensure that the Court puts a Child Arrangements Order in place to prevent this from happening.
As hard as it can be, to ensure the best for your children, it’s important to have discussions about what would happen in the event that either parent dies, and making your wishes known. You can read more about the importance of appointing a Guardian on todayswillsandprobate.co.uk.
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