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Wills ; How do you decide who will become guardian

(23 Posts)
Shhhh Mon 18-Jul-11 17:39:16

Dh & I need to sort wills. No reason other than the fact we have been together 16 years and married for 7 with 2 dk's yet have never got around it to... tbh depresses me blush but guess it would depress me further if something happened to either of us without a will iykwim!

the dk's and 4&6 and I know that if dh & I sit down to discuss the fact that if anything happened to either of us what would happen to the kids, it would open a can of worms, lead to an argument and tbh doesn't seem worth it............sad

I need to know, how do you come to a joint decision about guardianship of the dk's..? I guess it will only be in place till the kids are 16 (?) but I guess we should really sort something.

Itsjustafleshwound Mon 18-Jul-11 17:46:09

It is a really difficult one to decide (and I don't think our arrangements are the most practical ones) but could you not just face the music and find some common ground ???

It may not be really suitable but at least there is some sort of plan in place rather than nothing, leaving your surviving relatives having to guess what you want or what works for them ...

Wormshuffler Mon 18-Jul-11 17:49:41

We made our wills and put that brother and s in l would be our ideal candidates, they were fine with this. They are now getting divorced and I have no idea what to do now! It really is a can of worms, I guess the next person would be my best friend, but have no idea how to broach the situation!

Kladdkaka Mon 18-Jul-11 20:01:06

It might not seem worth it, but think about it from this perspective: if something did happen to both of you, would you want your poor grieving children to be pulled pillar to post as your families fight over what should happen to them?

HoneyDuke Mon 18-Jul-11 20:06:06

Remember that your parents might be quite elderly by the time the youngest is 18.

Shhhh Mon 18-Jul-11 20:20:05

thanks for the replies... still no help though ! sorry..blush just need to know what factors to consider to help us make the decision...

honeyduke,so its in place until the youngest is 18..? no idea if it was 16 or older..?

Itsjustafleshwound Mon 18-Jul-11 20:24:47

Ability (financial) to look after your children (obviously!!)
How well the chosen person knows your children
Just because they are family doesn't necessarily mean they know best or are able to be a good guardian protecting the child's best interests

We are in the awkward position that our chosen guardians live in another country/continent and makes the issue very tricky indeed as I would hate the thought of my children being brought up there, but they are godparents and family and the best fit we have available ....

Hassled Mon 18-Jul-11 20:30:15

With us it was easy - we have my Ex-DH, father of my older DCs and still a good friend all lined up for DCs 3&4. He was a shit husband but has always been a good father - they'll be fine.

For you - maybe look at it from the POV of who you'd not have first. Look at your parents and siblings - yes/no/maybe? Is age a factor, or lifestyle, or beliefs? Who just doesn't feel right - for either of you? Then friends - apart from yes/no/maybe, also think is it fair to ask? So work backwards - the person who's left is the person to talk to about it.

vj32 Mon 18-Jul-11 21:04:48

It needs to be until 18 - it is very very difficult to be independent before 18 because until then you are not recognized as an adult in many ways, eg can't get credit, can't sign tenancy agreements and other legal documents etc.

ChrissyHynde Mon 18-Jul-11 21:09:30

We have named the god parents for our DC and put age 23 on as a clause when they can get the money themselves however they can approach the god parents before then for moeny if needed for education; house etc

Shhhh Mon 18-Jul-11 21:13:01

hassled, that makes sense.

see we always thought it would be gp's but now realising that isn't always the right option. I guess it would cause issues if we choose someone else..

we also, up till now thought it had to be a couple but guess it can just be one person...

Mytholmroyd Mon 18-Jul-11 21:17:01

We have one from DH family and one from mine - just because they are legal guardians does not mean the DC have to live with them and we trust them to make the right choice for the DC at the time depending on their personal situations - there's not much else you can do as you wont be there and have to trust the guardians will have the DC best interests at heart.

mumblechum1 Tue 19-Jul-11 16:51:18

I'm a will writer and am convinced that this is one of the main reasons for people to put off making their Wills.

I'm embarrassed to admit that even I kept putting it off for ages for the reasons mentioned above. Eventually we decided to name ds's best friend's parents as they're local and it wouldn't mean changing schools etc. All our family are hundreds of miles away and wouldn't necessarily have the same values as our friends do.

Luckily he's nearly 17 so the last time I updated our wills I didn't say anything about guardianship at all.

btw if anyone's interested I have an ad over on the Small Business section of MN.

Shhhh Tue 19-Jul-11 17:03:35

mc, I have read about your wills... have told dh as well. Can you even sort wills out as described above. Do you advise or is it our choice what we do iykwim...?

mumblechum1 Tue 19-Jul-11 17:15:36

Hi Shhh, it is of course your choice, but you need to bear in mind 3 things;

1. The chances of both you and your husband both dying before your youngest is 18 are really pretty slim; people get so hung up about Guardianship that they don't make wills, when it's actually more important to make "good enough but not perfect" provision than none at all, particularly for unmarried couples.

2. Appointment of a Guardian is an expression of wish and is not binding on a court in the event of a dispute. If there was an argument about residence then the court would have to make whatever order it decided was in your children's best interest.

3. You can appoint as many Guardians as you like, or just one. If you're appointing someone from the mum's family, you can specify that you want that person to encourage and facilitate direct and indirect contact to the dad's side.

Shhhh Tue 19-Jul-11 17:55:43

point 1 is good and has actually made me a little more relaxed... I always hated the idea of a will.. kind of like tempting fate iykwim.

the 2nd point.. I never realised that.. so whatever dh & I decide could be overturned if people (grandparents in particular I worry about) disagree with it..?

mumblechum1 Tue 19-Jul-11 18:11:42

Yes, that's right, but the court would of course have to take into account the fact that you'd expressed your wishes so they wouldn't be ignored, just wouldn't override the principle of the children's welfare being paramount.

Lizcat Tue 19-Jul-11 20:08:27

We had this discussion on holiday last week with friends the H of had scarily done the research and from the information he gleaned from the office of national statistics it was more than 1 in 1000 children have this happen to them before they are 18 on stats about 7 years ago.
We have chosen friends, the H of whom is DD's godfather we made this choice as if DD was to need to join their family she would be the only girl and therefore occupy a special place which I feel a child in this situation would need to be.
We discussed this with both sets of grandparents so they are aware of why we made this choice and they do agree with this.
My Family has always been very open about wills and as a child I knew who my potential guardians were.

crazycarol Sat 23-Jul-11 15:23:08

We appointed my sister and BIL as guardians for dd. As I knew that she would bring my dd in a way that I would approve. I have 2 brothers, one of which I wouldn't trust as far as I could throw him and the other hasn't always made the best life choices but is doing ok now, but I would always have a doubt. Dh's family haven't really approved of me (I moved their precious little boy 400 miles away!) and I just didn't want them fighting over dd and any inheritance she might have. Dh agreed with me. My sister's dh passed away last year so she is on her own but I still would have no doubt that she would be the best person for the job if necessary. We do have some close friends but I felt that in our circumstances that family was best.

You have to look at your circle of family & friends and decide who would best look out for your dc, who would raise them in a way you would like and who your dc would be able to relate to.

Gonzo33 Mon 25-Jul-11 11:17:25

I too found this a very hard matter to decide on. In the end my DH and I went for my Mum and Dad purely because I have a son from a previous marriage that lives with us and my dh's son lives with his mother. We also have a daughter between us, so at this moment in time my parents are the only people who would take in both if my children. Hence the decision. When my son becomes 18 (9 years prior to his sister) then we may review the will or add a codicil.

MrsTittleMouse Mon 25-Jul-11 11:30:41

We found this terribly hard. A couple of points that we found:

You don't have to decide now who will look after your DCs when they are teenagers. Wills are really quite cheap and we plan to update ours when they (and DD1) are ten years old. We picked my Mum, as she is in very good health right now, it doesn't mean that she still will be in 5 years (fingers very firmly crossed), but that's OK, wills can change.

You don't have to have the same person/people to be financial trustees. As I said, my Mum is the guardian, but we felt that it would be too stressful for her to be taking care of the trust fund too, so the two grandfathers are the trustees (plus my cousin in case they get too old!). You can also do this if someone would be wonderfully caring, but has a history of spending the gas money on going to Alton Towers. smile

You don't have to hand over all the money to them when they are 18. Our lawyer specifically advised against this, and I agree with her. We picked 24 as an age that they are likely to be sensible enough to not go nuts with a windfall. We have made it quite clear to the rest of the family that the money is not to be saved for them, anyway, but to be used for the general expenses of raising two children. My Mum has made noises about not spending "their" money, but I have been quite clear that we got life insurance so that they won't be raised in poverty, not so that they can have some kind of windfall as "compensation" for losing their parents.

Which brings me to the last point - make sure that you talk to the potential guardians about how they feel, and what you would expect. We were able to put my Mum straight that she wasn't to bankrupt herself in old age, there might be other misunderstandings for you. We were fortunate that my Mum felt lucky to be asked, but we were careful to ask her in such a way that she didn't feel obliged - it's a big thing to take on, especially if you are older/have other children, which pretty much covers our entire family.

It sucks though, doesn't it? sad

Cleverything Mon 25-Jul-11 15:27:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

loiner45 Mon 25-Jul-11 19:57:38

important to remember I think that the guardians are the people who decide what's best for the child(ren) not necessarily the ones who have to take care of them! We asked my h's DS and she said 'no' didn't want the responsibility - her's were about 10 yrs older than ours and she said she would be done with child rearing soon (!) We ended up with my DHs unmarried best friend and another mutual friend, single parent. It was very reassuring for the dcs to know that X & Y (who they adored) would make sure they were OK. now I'm divorced I've just made a new will and put that the older DCs would have guardianship of younger, should I die and exH already be dead.

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