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Who Will Take Care of my Children if I Die Before They Become Adults?
According to 2015 statistics published by ‘The Childhood Bereavement Network,’ we know that an estimated 23,600 parents died in the UK, leaving dependent children (23,200 in 2014). That’s one parent every 22 minutes. In the busy lives of parents juggling the school run, sleepovers and how to cover the school holidays, the question: “Who would do all of this if I wasn’t here?” is understandably squeezed out.
The law provides that parents (other than some fathers who as a result of either not being married to the child’s mother or their name is not shown on the child’s birth certificate) may appoint an individual/s to be their child’s guardian should they die whilst the child is a minor. The appointment is only effective if the child has sadly lost both of their parents.
A person under the age of 18 years cannot legally give their consent or sign documents for things such as medical decisions or sign forms for a passport or examinations. The Guardian’s job is to deal with these things and generally they would also care for the child.
For the appointment to be effective it must be in writing, dated and signed by the parent. The appointment can also be part of a Will and this has the advantage that it should come to light if “the worst” has happened as family or friends are likely to search for a Will. A further advantage of making the appointment of the guardian in the Will is that through the parents’ discussions with their solicitor about what should be put in their Wills various other questions arise and can then be considered. Parents often ask “What if our chosen guardian is unable to take up the role, can we have a back-up?” There is also the question of what money, if any, will be available to the guardian to care for the child? Who will look after the child’s funds and is there any choice about when they receive their money in full?
In the Wealth Management team, we discuss these issues with parents who are in the process of making a Will. Although death and guardianship is not really a consideration any of us want to think about, once you do you may discover that you gain peace of mind due to covering off all of the worries and unanswered questions you may have.
Statistics source: http://www.childhoodbereavementnetwork.org.uk/research/key-statistics.aspx