If a couple passed away, who will look after the children? Normally, the grandparents will apply to become the guardian ad litem (appointed by court) in the case where a couple dies intestate (have no written Will). If one parent passed away, the surviving parent is left to take care of the children. Generally, the surviving children will be taken care off in the following order, surviving parent, testamentary guardian and guardian ad litem (appointed by court).
The importance of personally selecting a guardian
The future can be unpredictable. For example, a couple may meet with an unfortunate accident while travelling or on holiday leaving the children behind. Similar situations may also happen to a parent or a single parent who is divorced or a widow or a widower. It does not have to be an accident but a fatal illness that can take a parent away. These are unfortunate circumstances that negatively affect any child’s life especially if he is still a minor (underage).
If no guardian has been appointed by the parents, the grandparents will step in as mentioned above. A serious problem may arise if both paternal and maternal grandparents fight for custody of the children. Once the parents are gone, who can determine and select the right guardian who has the children’s best interest in mind?
If the parents left behind a significant amount of money or fortune for the orphaned children, this could attract dishonest people. An uncle, aunt or a distant relative or cousin may view the guardianship as super-attractive with a fortune attached to it.
All parents want the best outcome for their children, good health, happiness and a comfortable life. Therefore, parents should not ignore their rights to appoint a trusted person to become the guardian of their children should the unthinkable happen. The appointed guardian does not become the “guardian of property/inheritance” belonging to the children automatically unless legally specified, for example by a court order or as stated in the Will.
Generally, the appointed Executor/Trustee will be responsible to manage the minor beneficiary’s assets or inheritance until he reaches the legal age of 18 years old. This way, the legal and financial interests of the children are protected.
Allowance for guardians
Providing some allowance for the appointed guardian is recommended. Taking care of one’s own children is not an easy job, what more taking care of other people’s children. This is what the guardian is going to be responsible for that is taking care of someone else’s child or children. The responsibility is huge and requires a tremendous amount of patience and sacrifice.
Hence, giving some money helps to make the job or responsibility easier to bear. The monetary reward is also a show of appreciation towards the appointed guardian for taking on an important role.
To recap again, it is important to appoint a guardian for your young children and state it in your Will. As a parent, you can choose a suitable guardian that has your children’s best interest in mind. It is equally important to leave some money or allowance for the guardian and stated in the Will, to reward him or her.