Appointing Guardianship

By placing a guardianship order in your last will and testament, you are giving somebody permission to care for an individual, their well-being and their finances when you are no longer around to do so.

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Appointing a guardian – What is a guardian?

If you have any dependents, such as children under the age of 18 or somebody with a mental or physical disability, it is wise to have a plan in place to make sure that they are cared for in the event of your death.

By appointing a guardian you can live your life knowing that, should the worst happen, your loved ones will not be left in the cold – it will also relieve a lot of stress for those you leave behind, preventing any dispute over who will take on the responsibility. 

By placing a guardianship order in your last will and testament, you are giving somebody permission to care for an individual, their well-being and their finances when you are no longer around to do so.

Who needs a guardian?

Anybody who is unable to make their own legal decisions or manage their own affairs, either through impairment, disability or youth, requires a guardian.

If you take responsibility of somebody who has any type of physical or learning disability, or a child aged under 18, it is crucial that your will spells out exactly who will take over this duty should you pass away.

How does guardianship work in the UK?

Appointing a guardian has the potential to be a complicated matter, but there are a few simple guidelines to help you do so. When appointing a guardian…

Who should you appoint as a guardian?

Choosing a guardian for your loved one is a very personal matter, so the choice should be between you and your chosen guardian.

It should be noted that to become a legal guardian, the person must be over the age of 18 and have a direct interest in the dependents well-being and financial security.

It is for this reason that guardianship is usually granted to close family members like siblings, aunties and uncles or grandparents, but it is not uncommon for friends or healthcare professionals to be given this responsibility as long as they agree to it.

If you deem necessary, you are able to appoint more than one guardian so to spread the responsibility of your dependent’s care – this is usually split depending on your chosen guardian’s personal circumstances. For example, one person could be given financial responsibility over your dependent, while the other is given the duty of taking daily care of them.

If you’d like to appoint just one guardian, we recommend including an alternative as well – while it might seem unlikely now, there is always a chance that your chosen guardian could become ill, move away or otherwise become unable to support your dependent.

Before deciding who to appoint as a legal guardian, take close consideration of the following:

Here at Unite Wills, we work closely with carefully selected partners to ensure that appointing a guardian is as simple and painless as possible – after all, it is a sensitive matter and not one that everybody likes to speak openly about. 

What powers do guardians have?

Once legally granted, guardianship gives your chosen person the ability to manage your dependent’s healthcare, education, finances and all other day-to-day affairs.

This includes any bank accounts, savings accounts, property, tax and any inheritance that you may have left to them – most commonly applicable to children, the guardianship order remains in place until the child’s 18th birthday, at which point they are granted permission to manage their own affairs.

Why are guardians important?

If you have young children, or take responsibility for somebody, appointing a guardian is one of the most important aspects of your will. This is because:

Most importantly, appointing a guardian allows you to live your life knowing that, if you should unexpectedly pass away, your loved ones will be placed in the loving, capable hands of your chosen guardian.

How to set up a guardianship order

For a guardianship order to be official, it must come in the form of a formal declaration held within your will – it is important that you do this as soon as a child is born, to minimise risk.

Delaying the creation of a guardianship order leaves your child, their care and their financial security in jeopardy. Get in touch with us today to discuss your options when appointing a guardian.

I’ve been asked to be a guardian – do I have to accept?

No – there is no legal obligation for you to accept responsibility for somebody’s child if they pass away.

Agreeing to be a guardian of somebody’s children is a massive responsibility so, even if you are honoured to have been asked, it is important that you are honest with yourself and the person who has asked you.

Are you financially capable of caring for somebody else’s child? Have you got the time to spare to ensure that they receive the same level of love and care that they would from a parent? Do you think the child would be better off under the care of somebody else?

If you don’t feel that you are capable of taking on the responsibility, it is important that you say so.

What is the difference between a guardian and a godparent?

Godparents and legal guardians do not share the same legal responsibility – being a legal guardian means that you are required by law to take care of somebody’s dependent when they pass away. While being a godparent only gives you a moral obligation to do so.

Godparents are not automatically appointed as the guardian of their godchild if their parents or existing guardians pass away.

If you would like the child’s godparent to be their legal guardian, you should appoint them as such in your will.

Guardianship for adults

Though typically associated with children under the age of 18, guardianship orders are also available for older individuals who depend on others for care – this may be down to mental impairment, physical disability or being unable to make decisions about their finances and/or health. 

Guardianship for people with Alzheimer's

In accordance with the Mental Health Act 1983, you are able to appoint a guardian for adults with diagnosed mental disorders.

These guardians are able to:

It is possible to name a local authority as the guardian of an adult, however many prefer to leave their loved ones in the hands of a family member, friend or carer.

What is a special guardianship order?

A special guardianship order is put in place by the court of law when both parents are still alive but deemed incapable of taking care of their child.

Guardianship orders are usually only carried out when the parents pass away, but can also be utilised if they are in prison, working away, in the army, become mentally or physically impaired or otherwise refuse responsibility for the child.

Guardianship advice with Unite Wills

If you’re looking into the possibility of appointing a guardian, we have a team of experts on hand to talk you through the process and ensure that your dependents are never left to fend for themselves should you pass away.

We always prioritise you, your chosen guardian and your family’s best interests, and you can rest assured that the service provided by our specialist partners is always of the highest quality.

To find out more about appointing a guardian in the UK, writing a will or securing financial stability for your children in the future, get in touch with one of our advisors today by filling out our short contact form.


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