Guardianship for Children
Why is it necessary for guardians to be appointed for my under age children
The Guardian is the person appointed by the court who will take care of your minor children if you cannot. If you do not nominate a guardian in your Will, it will be done for you by the courts. Whatever informal agreements you may have made will be given little, if any, consideration. On the other hand, the court will give great deference to whom you appoint through your Will to serve as guardian and the likelihood of the court not honouring that appointment is slim.
Who should I choose as Guardian
Obviously picking a guardian is a deeply personal decision. Some consideration in making that decision is the following:
A Loving Home: Obviously the most important aspect of picking a guardian is choosing someone who would provide a loving environment for your children. In considering whom you will name, you should carefully examine their philosophy of life, their values and their approach to raising children. No one would raise your children as you would, but often you can find someone who would provide the love, support and encouragement that your children would need.
Age of the guardians: If you are thinking about naming your parents, and they will be in their seventies when your children are teenagers, you might want to re-evaluate your options or create contingency plans.
Amount of Dislocation: If other things are equal (which they rarely are), you will want to pick a guardian that would require the least amount of change for your children. It is important that your children know their guardians and are comfortable with them.
Financial Issues: If you are leaving enough money behind in a trust to raise your children, this may not be a consideration. You can leave money to guardians to help defray the cost of taking in your children and the money you leave behind in trust will be used to offset expenses of raising them. If the guardian would be paying to raise your children, you should carefully consider the financial impact on them and whether that impact will be detrimental to your children.
Can I name a couple as joint guardians: You are certainly entitled to name a couple as joint guardians. In doing so, however, you should carefully consider the strength of their marriage. If the guardians divorce after their appointment, custody of your children would become an issue in their divorce proceedings. Many parents will name joint guardians but require that they be married at the time of their appointment and some will indicate a preference for one of the joint guardians in case they divorce. The simplest way to deal with this problem is to name only one guardian.