Estate planning involves choosing a guardian for your children

Date: Oct 03, 2012

For many people, one of the least enjoyable parts of estate planning is appointing your children’s guardian should you and your partner die before they turn 18.

It's a very difficult choice, not just because it's unpleasant to think of the notion that you won't be around for your children's special moments in life. Choosing a guardian shouldn't be taken lightly, as they will effectively be raising your children; which is something that deserves special consideration.

If a couple dies intestate - or in other words, without a legal will in place - then not only are your children left without their parents, they're also left without a legal guardian.. A judge may have the unfortunate task of designating appropriate care, and while the judge will endeavour to do their best, the decision they come to, may be entirely against what you would have wished for.

For the most part, the wishes of the parents are respected.

Typically, in appointing your children’s guardian, parents must ask themselves some tough questions such as:

• Are the guardians liked by my children and do they have a connection with them?

• Do the guardians have the same values and think similarly to us?

• Are the guardians willing to take on the responsibility?

• Are they able to handle the responsibility, financially and emotionally?

Parents should make a list of multiple candidates and then approach them one by one until a candidate agrees to take on this responsibility.

As part of appointing your children’s guardian it's important to leave instructions such as what school you want them to attend or what faith you want them to be taught. If these details are not included = there is no way of communicating your wishes if something tragic happens.

While you're thinking about a guardian, think also about if you wish to establish any sort of financial trust for your children. This could be reserved for their education or for when they're ready to put a deposit down on a home. This will not only provide your children with security but ease the financial burden on your children's carers.

If you want to speak to an experienced lawyer about appointing your children’s guardian in your will call Dominic Wilson on 02 8268 4000.