As a parent, watching children grow and learn is one of the great joys of life. But what if the worst were to happen, and your children were to lose both parents before they reach 18 – who would care for them?
There are many factors to consider. Losing your parents at any age is difficult, but it is particularly traumatic for a young child, and as such it could be best to minimise disruption for them as far as possible.
Many people think of their own parents first, but they may not be the best choice. If your parents are 60 and in good health, and your children are teenagers, then they may be suitable guardians; but if your parents are 70 and your children are 3 and 1, will they have the energy and indeed money to raise them? And if they die before your children reach 18, your children may have to be uprooted again.
The most common choice of guardian we see is brothers, sisters or close friends, especially where they already have a good relationship with the child. If your children and theirs play together already, then even better!
It is important to consider how the potential guardians and your children would feel living together, and for older children, that the guardians could help your child continue any activities e.g. sports or music.
Also, don’t forget to ask someone’s permission before you appoint them as guardians in your Will.
Single parents should note that unless there is a major reason why their children should not go to their other parent, the latter would have a good claim to raise them. However, you would still want to appoint guardians in case the other parent is not able to take your children.
Where parents die with no guardian appointed, Social Services could appoint a guardian you would not have chosen. Or your parents could raise your child out of love, but due to their own circumstances they may not have been the ideal choice.
If there are no closer options, your child could be put into care or a foster home, or adopted. As well as the difficulties of integrating into a stranger’s home, the child may feel that nobody wants them.
When producing your Will, we will happily discuss your choice of guardians with you to help you come to the right decision.