Guardianship: 5 Tips On Appointing A Guardian
Guardianship for your children is a very emotive subject. But it is also very important to do if you want control over who looks after your children if you are not able. I have prepared a list of things you may wish to consider when appointing a guardian for your children, they are:
a. The relationship with your child
b. The person’s age and health
c. The Guardian’s experience with children
d. The Guardian’s financial position
e. Where they are located
And finally a cautionary tale.
The loss of a parent is a traumatic event for a child of any age. The loss of both is fortunately very rare. However, should this occur, the person you appoint as the guardian of your child is very important. Ideally, this should be a family member who is familiar to your child, not a distant relative they rarely see.
Age & Health
The age and health of the prospective Guardian are also important. The intuitive appointment may be your parents, the grandparents of your children. However, if they are now in their 60s or 70’s are they really fit and able to look after a young child now – or deal with a teenager in their 80’s?
The Guardian’s Experience of Raising Children
This is the reason why many parents consider their own parents first. They have experience in raising children and they did a good job. However, raising children is tough work so due to their age and health they may no longer be the best candidates.
The Guardian’s Financial Position
Is the guardian in a position to give up work to look after your child? If your child is very young this may make full-time work impossible, causing financial strain on their household. Older children may be easier to look after but they will also need clothing, feeding and a place to sleep. Depending on the size of your estate, this may be provided for from your assets. However, Child Poverty Action Group announced in a press release earlier this year that the cost of raising a child to age 18 in the UK was over £187,000 in 2019.
Most expatriates living in the UAE do not have the luxury of their immediate family living in the same country. Therefore appointing close friends to act as interim guardians for your children for the period between your death and the arrival of the children’s legal guardians is a prudent step.
A Cautionary Tale
When a child is under 18, they cannot inherit their parents’ estate. Instead, the estate is held in trust for them until they are adult. The Trustees of the estate are often the Executors appointed under the Will. Where the Executor and the Guardian are the same people, there is little oversight on how and where the money from the estate is spent.
Regrettably, many family disputes are over claims of mismanagement or even worse misappropriation of inheritances. Where possible, it is prudent to have different people looking after the money and looking after the welfare of your children.
It is Polite To Ask
Given the huge responsibility guardianship places on the guardian, it makes sense to gain their agreement before putting them in any Will or Guardianship document. The appointment should also be reviewed if there are changes in the circumstances of you or the guardian.
Read our post on Appointing a Guardian in Dubai
Contact me, if you have any questions.