Guardians – What you need to know about protecting your children

If you have children, you are likely to have thought about what might happen if you and your partner were not around to look after them.

Whether that’s been a fleeting thought, or you have started planning in more detail, this time we are going to explore what you need to know about protecting your children.

Your first steps

Without a doubt, you should have a Will – as a bare minimum. That way, you have documented your wishes, should anything happen.

However, we would recommend that you do some planning and soul searching before getting your Will drawn up.

Who makes a good guardian?

The answer to that obviously varies in every family. But the universal answer is somebody who will bring your children up in the same way as you would. Somebody with the same moral compass as you, and the same values. Equally, they should have a similar way of life. Crucially, they should have the energy, will and desire to become a guardian too.

And that’s the critical element for you to consider. It’s easy for us to default to our own parents when making this choice. But your parents will be the next generation on from you. Will they have the good health and ability to look after their grandchildren? Would they even want to do it? It’s a very different ball game having the grandchildren full time rather than high days and holidays.

If you have siblings, they can be a very good choice – they have had the same upbringing as you and are likely to have a similar outlook on life. But again, that requires some thought. If they have chosen not to have children, are they likely to want to inherit yours? Equally, if they already have a large brood, are they going to want to add to them?

Of course, if you don’t have siblings you have an even harder decision. You are likely to be looking at friends. You need to consider their approach to life, and if you could imagine your children fitting into that life. And, of course, you also need to explore if your friends would be prepared to take on that responsibility.

What about money?

To protect your children and provide them with the best life possible we recommend:

  • Life insurance – that will pay out in the event of your death, and can be accessed by the guardians to provide for your children
  • Trust – set up to protect your estate and provide additional income for your children, either straight away or once they have become adults. We recommend having the Trust administered by the Executors of your Will, not your children’s guardians, to remove any conflict of interest.

What else do you need to think about?

Have you talked about what you would like for your children? If you are a passionate believer in private education, your chosen guardians need to know that, and you need to provide for that financially. If you would like to support your children going to university, buying their first car or first house, again you need to make provision and share your hopes and dreams.

You may like to think about writing a letter for each child, telling them what you dream of, but equally letting them know how much you love them. It is the chance to reassure them that whatever life choices they make, you will be proud of the people they become. Whilst this is incredibly difficult, it is an incredibly powerful document that they can cherish, especially if you should die unexpectedly.

And lastly, we want to say to you – don’t put this off. Don’t imagine it won’t happen to you – because it might. And, if you don’t appoint guardians, your children will automatically go into care. It is a misconception that it will be the decision of your Executors, or next of kin to decide on your children’s fate.

So, we encourage you to decide their fate, by putting all of the right things in place to protect them.

If you would like to discuss protecting your children or creating a Will, please contact us on 01344 875 310.

Guardians - Protecting your children