Legal Guardianship 
Its every parents worst nightmare dying before their children and if you’re not here, who brings up your children? As parents we often worry about what will happen to our children if we die when they are still young. But do we do anything about it? If your children are still dependent on you, you need to make sure you have plans in place, so they are looked after if the worst should happen and you are not around to do it. 
What happens if a Legal Guardian has not been appointed? 
If you or your partner die without making legal guardianship of a child arrangements, it is possible that lots of your friends and family could come forward to look after them, but unless you have made specific instructions the courts could appoint someone else, someone you would not have chosen to be their guardians and while their future is being decided by the courts, which could take some time, your children could be taken into care by social services. Making sure your children are cared for by the people you choose is not difficult. You need to make sure that you have written down your wishes formally in writing identifying who you want to look after them. 
 
Unmarried parents 
If the mother and father are not married and the mother dies, the father does not have automatic responsibility for the children. It is really important that the mother formally grants parental rights to the father and states legal guardianship of a child in her will, if that is what she wants and has been agreed. 
 
Who can appoint a Legal Guardian? 
Any parent with “Parental Responsibility” or both parents with “Parental Responsibility” together can appoint a guardian 
 
How to appoint a Legal Guardian? 
Many Wills include a section on guardianship for children. Check that your Will does. If not, then talk to us so that we can put you in touch with a member of our Family Team. It is a good idea to nominate a second person as a Legal Guardian, just in case your first-choice can’t accept the responsibility, has died or left the country. If you don’t have a Will then please talk to us and we can help. If you don’t want a Will for religious reasons then you can write a guardianship letter instead. 
 
Who to choose to look after your children? 
There are lots of things to consider when choosing people to be more than just legal guardians of your children. It is important to think about things like their own family situation, how old and how fit they are, where they live and whether they can afford to do it? This is where Life Insurance can really help – maybe having a trust for the benefit of the children to cover costs such as university which would be a heavy burden to expect your nominated guardians to cover. Again, our family team can help with talking to you about setting up a trust and the benefits of doing so. Think about your own values and beliefs, how do you want these to be nurtured as your children grow up, will the people you are thinking of making your children’s guardians be able to do this? do they have the same beliefs as you? Also remember to let whoever you choose know what you are planning to do before you do it.  
 
It might seem an obvious choice to you, but they could have no idea you have them in mind and they may not be able to take on the responsibility for many differing reasons. So, talk to them before you do anything. 
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