Making Sure Your Family Are Taken Care Of
The Importance of Appointing a Guardian
Legally, minor children (in most countries this is 18) must have an adult who is responsible for them.
If you and/or your partner unexpectedly die without appointing guardians, the State assumes responsibility until a guardian can be found which would be a very distressing process for your children and family.
It could happen that both sets of grandparents apply and there is the possibility of a falling out of the two families. Expat families who are not geographically close to their extended family are particularly at risk in this situation.
Godparents have no legal status although most people choose them with the thinking that these are the people they would like to bring up the children if circumstances took their parents away.
The appointment of guardians can be made in a deed or more commonly a Will.
Appointing Legal Guardians
By appointing legal guardians of your choice in a Will then you have the comfort knowing that if something happened to you there is someone there who will look after your children until they reach adulthood. You can also outline financial arrangements to give support to the guardians and as well as putting provisions into place to ensure there is money available for your children's education and general care.
Quite often people may appoint parents, siblings or close relatives. In deciding who may be a suitable guardian, you should consider geographical location, would they be able to cope, do you have similar parenting styles and values, and whether they have a good relationship with your children.
This is the hardest decision to make, especially if your children are still small, but the alternative is very unappealing.
Deed of Temporary Guardianship
Your chosen legal guardian may be living in another country to you and so we also recommend having a Deed of Temporary Guardianship drafted. This allows local friends, neighbours or colleagues to take care of your children until the legal guardians arrive from overseas.
Without appointing temporary guardians, your children can still be at risk of being taken away by social services until the legal guardians arrive to take up guardianship.