Why is appointing a guardian in your will important?
Appointing a guardian for your children is a critical task when you sit down to draw up your Will. Once you have named a guardian or guardians, the court will follow your request so long as it is feasible.
What is a guardian?
A guardian is a person who has legal responsibility for a child instead of the parents. Guardians are appointed for children when their parents are deceased or if they abandon or are unable to care for them.
Who can be a guardian?
• The natural mother and father of a child (the mother is automatically a guardian, the father’s guardianship depends on whether he was married to or living with the mother around the time of the child’s conception and birth, and whether his name is on the birth certificate).
• Someone appointed by another guardian to take over if he or she dies (this person is called a testamentary guardian).
• The new partner of a parent, by application to the Family Court.
• Someone appointed by the Family Court.
• The Family Court, in some cases.
What are guardians’ responsibilities?
A guardian is responsible for taking care of the physical, mental and emotional needs and any need for assistance in activities of daily living. A guardian’s responsibilities to a child include:
• Providing day-to-day care and making sure that everyday things in the child’s life are taken care of, such as living in a safe and secure home, receiving loving care and attention with proper arrangements for school. This applies to guardians appointed by a parent in a Will.
• Contributing to the child’s development.
• Helping to make big decisions in a child’s life. These include:
– Where they live.
– Where they go to school.
– Major medical treatment.
– What their culture, language and religion will be.
– Any changes to their name.
If there is no guardian…
If you should die without a Will and fail to designate a guardian, the courts will decide who takes care of your minor children. The court system doesn’t know your children and can’t understand your wishes for them unless you leave a legally binding guardianship clause included in your Will.