Laura Lambert of Ansons LLP Solicitors family law team in Cannock, Staffordshire, explains: “You may know that you can appoint guardians to look after your children if you die, but did you know that you can appoint a legal guardian to act in your place if you were to become incapacitated after a serious car accident, suffering from a debilitating illness.
A guardian of a child is someone who is appointed to take over responsibility for the child if you die, or are unable to look after them. The appointment would provide day-to-day care for the child and the guardian will also have the rights to decide on the child’s upbringing, health, religion and education.
Nominating a guardian for your children is especially important if you are not married, a single parent, divorced or widowed and your relatives are distant as there may not be someone nearby who is legally entitled to take over from you. Without a guardianship order in place, social services and the court would have to become involved to decide where your children would live or what treatment they should receive. This may not follow your wishes.
You can appoint a guardian to act after you die with a signed and dated document such as a deed or by making a will. If you want the guardianship to come into effect before you die, you would need to make an application to the court. Becoming a guardian is a big responsibility and you should discuss it with the people you want to nominate and make sure they are prepared to accept the role.
If you are the only person with parental responsibility, the guardianship will come into effect after you die or from when the court grants the order.
If, there is a surviving parent with parental responsibility; guardianship under your will does not usually take effect until the death of the second parent even if you are separated or divorced. However a legal guardian appointed through the court can act jointly with the surviving spouse.
If you have a residence order in force in your favour, and it is not a joint or shared order, then the guardian in your will is able to act jointly with the surviving parent after you die.
As soon as you have children, it is important to make a will to ensure they will be protected and cared for in all circumstances.
For further information, please contact Laura Lambert in the family team, on 01543 431 996 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ansons Solicitors has offices in Cannock and Lichfield, Staffordshire.