Guardians of the galaxy?
Not quite but they may be guardians of your children and that is pretty much the same thing. So what are guardians?
A legal guardian is responsible for all the roles you would usually play as a parent, including:
- Bringing them up until they reach adulthood
- Giving them somewhere safe to live
- Maintaining their diet and health
- Making sure they get an education
Without wishing to sound alarming, should you die without making a will or if you do not appoint guardians in your will, your children could be placed in care until the court appoints official guardians to look after them. This could take months and would obviously result in distress for your children and other members of your family.
A sticky situation
As this is such an important and touchy subject it is also the place people are most likely to get stuck when making their will. In fact, you may be in that position right now!
Here are some thought which might help:
- The other parent is automatically the legal guardian, so your guardians would only ever be called upon if there are no surviving parent with parental responsibility.
- Guardians are usually relatives or friends who you think would care well for your children should you die.
- Although each parent can appoint different guardians, it is worth remembering that both will legally act in the event you both die at the same time so depending on who you have chosen it could have an effect on your children’s future.
- You can also appoint different guardians for different children but this may mean splitting them up. If this occurs, guardians have to ensure adequate contact between the children is maintained but you may not be happy having your children divided in any way.
- Guardians are only appointed for children under the age of 18.
- The role of the guardian is a very responsible one and should not be entered into lightly. There will be financial, social and emotional implications taking on such a vast role and the matter should be discussed in detail between you (the Testator i.e. person writing the Will) and the appointed guardians.
- Many parents will provide financial support for their children in the will and it is important to speak to potential guardians about this.
- You must make the guardians aware of the Islamic upbringing you want for your child, this will be mentioned in your will in general terms.
So don’t let the issue of guardians be a blocker to complete your will. Have the conversations with your nearest and dearest and ensure that you are adequately protected.