Who would take care of my children if I die before they turn 18?




Liz Woodward – Solicitor

If something happens to you before your children turn 18 and you have not made any provision for their care then it is most likely that the decision would be made by the Court.  The Court will appoint a guardian to take responsibility and care for your child or children but that may not be the person you would have chosen.

You can protect your children by appointing a Guardian in your Will.  There are other methods of appointing a Guardian but as it is the intention that the appointment would only take effect in the event of your death the logical way is to include a Guardianship Clause in your Will.  You can also include a Letter of Wishes setting out your wishes as to how you would like your children raised; although the Letter of wishes would not be legally binding it would be helpful for those you appoint and would also give you peace of mind to know that your children will be cared for in the same way you would have cared for them.

Ideally you and your partner would agree to appoint the same person (or people) as Guardians even if you are no longer together in a relationship yourselves.  If you appoint different people then if you die first the person you appointed would not take up guardianship until, or unless, your partner dies before the children reach the age of 18 years; in the event of this happening both sets of Guardians from each Will would be appointed together.  The Guardians would need to agree and make decisions for your children together, this could lead to problems if they don’t get along or cannot agree on any decisions.

You can also provide financially for your Guardians by way of a direct gift to them in your Will if they take up the appointment as a way of thanking them, or by providing a provision in your Will allowing your Trustees to grant a loan to the Guardians from your Estate, for example if the Guardians should need to move to a larger home or extend their home to accommodate your children.

There are many things to consider when making your Will to protect you and your family, after all your children are your greatest asset, don’t leave it to chance.  If you would like to update your Will please contact any member of our Wills Department by clicking here.