Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Could you leave your children at the mercy of Social Services?

The easiest way to make the toughest decision

Don't leave your child's future to chance
“If anything happens to us, my sister (mother, best friend) will look after the kids, I’ve already talked to them about it.”

Sounds familiar? It’s what an awful lot of people think. The truth is rather different, however. If you haven’t made a Will, then the decision is out of your (and your sister’s, mother’s or best friend’s) hands, because Social Services will make the decision as to who will be the guardian of your children until they reach the age of 18. For those people who are not married to the other parent of the children, it gets even worse, because the father is not automatically given guardianship of his own children should the mother die.
And there’s such a simple way to avoid this; make a Will!

The key decision to make is who, if you die, should look after your children and carry out your wishes for their care. Even if you haven’t got many worldly goods, your most valuable asset is your children, and a Will ensures they go where you want them to. It obviously ensures that all your other assets go where you want them to as well.

Guardians should ideally be of a similar age to the parents. If appointing older guardians, then make sure you review their suitability at regular intervals.

Unless the guardians are a couple, do not appoint joint guardians. Typically appointing both grandmothers is a recipe for disputes. On the face of it they get on, but would they if they had joint guardianship of the children? Whom do they live with? What type of discipline do they get? Which church do they go to? The list is endless. The last thing you want is to risk your children being the centre of a dispute when they are already upset.

Appointing guardians who live abroad, can cause problems as permission will be required to take them abroad and that might not be granted. Just because a person is a guardian to children, the children will not automatically be allowed to live in the guardian’s country (e.g. USA). Nor will the guardian be automatically allowed to live in England unless they are from the European Union.

One final point – before you take the big step of appointing guardians for your children, make sure they want the job and are prepared to look after them.

If you need to make a will or just need some advice, call us today 01778 382723.

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