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This is not a thought any parent would like to have; however, it is part of life, unfortunately, sometimes it happens too soon and if it happens to you and your partner whilst your children are still minors, what will happen to them?

Your Children can go into care if you don't have a Will

Child sitting alone without his parents

We would like to think if both you and your partner were to pass away before your children reached 18 that they would naturally go to your parents or someone you know very well.  However, our legal system in England and Wales will not see it the same way as you.

No Will?

If you both do not have a Will which appoints a guardian who would look after your children in your absence, then your bereaved children become the responsibility of the Court. Furthermore, there is no legal presumption that a child must live with a biological parent after the death of the other. 

Did you know that more than 100 children a day are bereaved of a parent; do you have plans in place in the event you and your partner die?

Who would look after my children if I died?

If you have Parental responsibility for your children, then you can appoint a guardian for your children in your Will. This way you can be sure that the children will be looked after by the people you choose and not be chosen for you in your absence.   When you appoint a guardian, it is their responsibility for your child’s care and they gain responsibility, immediately on your death if you are the surviving parent.  A guardian is likely to be someone whom you know well, and your child knows and trusts.

Legal complications and uncertainty can be easily avoided by appointing a guardian.

There are lots of things to consider when choosing a guardian…

  • the day-to-day care of your children
  • making key decisions about their education, health and welfare
  • where the guardian lives live, would it involve your children moving away from their friends?
  • grandparents maybe a good choice, as are your siblings or close friends,
  • have you discussed with your potential guardian before nominating them?

If no legal guardian has been appointed – what happens to my children?

The reality is, if no guardians are appointed for your children then there is a high possibility that your children could end up in care while the Court appoints a guardian of its choosing.  

The Court will decide what is best for your children and whilst the Court will take in account the wishes and feelings of the children, the weight attached varies depending on the age and maturity of the child concerned. 

A Will is the only way to ensure your children are safeguarded

Your solution to ensure that your children are looked after according to your wishes is to include details of who you would like to be their guardian(s) in your Will.  By taking this decision, there is the benefit of being able to discuss with your chosen guardians and your family your wishes and help avoid later disputes about who should care for your children.  Some people choose to discuss the matter with their children as well, if they feel it is appropriate.

Supporting bereaved children

Losing a parent is understandably a difficult time for children and their families: There are a number of agencies available to support children who have lost parents or close family members, including Winston’s Wish , Child Bereavement UK and Grief Encounter.

Making a Will

Will Writing & Estate Planning Services Exeter are here to ensure that your children are well cared for after your death. Please call: 01392 540 996 or email: simon@simonhall.info .