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Choosing guardians

(15 Posts)
Pippaandpolly Sun 17-Jul-11 10:05:28

DH and I have been discussing who to ask to be legal guardians of our (not yet born but due in September!) children should we both die. Morbid but necessary! We had been considering DH's cousin and her husband as we're close, they're roughly the same age as us and we think they'd make good parents. Negatives are that it would be a strain on them financially (though next step is life insurance) and they live in Ireland. We have no problem with that in itself, but I mentioned it to my mother and she was devastated at the idea of her grandchildren being overseas, albeit not far, where she won't be able to see them regularly. She would like us to make her guardian instead. We had written her off as she could end up in her 70s with a teenager (or two), which we didn't think fair, but she's adamant that would be fine. Apart from age we'd have no problem with her being the guardian at all. Other options are fairly limited in terms of family-my brother is great but doesn't want his own kids, let alone someone else's, DH's brother is awful in so many ways, DH's father is unemployed and also pushing 60, and my father lives in America, which we do think is too far from home given that the trauma our children would have already gone through in losing both parents.

So would you ask young, lovely cousins in Ireland, bearing in mind the upheaval it would cause them and the distance from the rest of the family, or my lovely mum who is already in her mid 50s?

I know only we can really make the decision (and whoever we ask might well say no!) but I'm interested to hear if there are any other pros and cons we havent thought about.

Seona1973 Sun 17-Jul-11 10:11:19

havent even thought about guardians and dd and ds are age 7 and 4!!

inthesticks Sun 17-Jul-11 15:12:30

Your mum is a very young grandparent - I'm in my mid 50s with two children.
I'd make her the guardian but keep it under review when they are older.

PotterWatch Sun 17-Jul-11 15:19:18

We had this issue last year when we made our will.

My nan and step grandad brought me up and they are the people I am closest to and the people I would want to look after my children, although they are getting on now so I didn't ask them. However, after discussing with them who we were going to have, they offered it to be them. They are my first choice and since they said they are willing, then we have put them down as guardians but we also have my sister and brother and have put that, should the worse happen, whoever is in the best position to look after our children will become the guardians. If it happened tomorrow, it would be my grandparents, but if it was in a year or 2, it would likely be my sister, brother is now unlikely as he is far away at uni but you don't know what will happen in the future.

You can have both people you want and do what we have done. If your mum is still capable if the worse should happen then she can do it but if not then they will have to go to Ireland.

Hope this helps. smile

PirateDinosaur Sun 17-Jul-11 15:26:02

We have never specified anyone, and the children are now 6, 3 and 5 months. The circmstances of our family members have changed radically over time and if we had chosen guardians before DS was born we'd have revised that two or three times by now. So we've settled on assuming that our families would do the right thing under all the circumstances as they were at the time.

If your mother is only in her mid-50s and is generally in good health then I would ask her, though, TBH.

PotterWatch Sun 17-Jul-11 15:56:28

Pirate if your familes cannot agree, the children get taken into care, regardless of who wants them in the family. It really is important to state who you want to look after them0

PirateDinosaur Sun 17-Jul-11 16:36:24

If we ever get to the point where DH and I agree on who we want to look after them, we will. We come back to it every so often and never manage to agree. And in practice I think they would all agree in the short term, because our families get on well with each other; it's long term candidates that are the big question (DH and I are both eldest children and it's only recently that our younger siblings are starting to possibly look like "people you might consider letting raise your children"; even then, some of them are/were married to "people you would not want raising your children". SIL2 may be beginning to emerge as a candidate, though, and I could see us updating wills in the next year or so).

inthesticks Sun 17-Jul-11 16:37:45

As far as I know it's normal to name someone when you make a will just as you have to appoint trustees to manage the money for the children if the worst should happen.
We revised our original wills when DS1 was born, again when DS2 was born and again some years later for financial reasons.

PotterWatch Sun 17-Jul-11 19:30:05

Pirate not trying to go on at you. but if something were to happen to you both within the next year, then it isn't really fair on your familes to have to sort it out. You should have something in place so they know what your wishes are and then it isn't something that could potentially cause conflict at a time when they are going to be grieving and dealing with children who have lost their parents.

I know it sounds awful but I do think it is slightly selfish to expect others to sort it out after you have gone when it is something that you need to do yourself.

We did have to same dilemma. I know its awful and I am not 100% about my choices tbh but we don't have a lot of choice. TBH I would choose some of my friends first but I don't feel its fair to put that on them when they have their own children and if the situation was reversed, then I wouldn't really want to do it either.

monkoray Sun 17-Jul-11 19:56:26

OP, ask yourself how well your Mother would cope with your death. You kids will have just lost both their parents and they will need stability and security. If you think that losing her daughter will not send her over the edge then she may be the best bet - i presume she will see your dc more often than your DH's cousin as she lives nearer?
We ruled out my parents on age grounds and my DHs parents on the grounds that my MIL will fall apart if DH dies and that would not be a good place for my DS to be no matter what age he is.

attheendoftheday Sun 17-Jul-11 20:28:27

We did the same just before dd was born. We settled on making dm and dmil joint guardians (very confident they could agree and work together), with dbil as a second choice guardian in case they were too elderly or infirm (or had passed away) to be the guardian. Would something like that work for you?

FessaEst Sun 17-Jul-11 20:36:45

By nominating a guardian, you are not necessarily saying that that is who your DC would love with, but that they are who would have the final say in decisions about your DC. So, you could name them all as joint guardians, and write a separate letter to be kept with your wills that laid out your plans/hopes for your DC and asked the guardians to do the best in the given circumstances.

The financial situation should be completely mitigated with life assurance/insurance, and by specifying that all your assets go to your DC upon your death.

Don't forget that you will also need to name executors for your will, who will have some say in the support of your DC as they grow up.

Fenouille Sun 17-Jul-11 20:46:01

OP, we have a similar problem as the grandparents are all too old but the only sibling either I or DH have lives on another continent. I think DBIL and his wife would be good parents to our DS but I don't want our DS being uprooted and brought up so far away from both set of grandparents. DSIL also insists on spending every Christmas with her parents so potentially DS would either never spend Christmas with either of his GPs or would spend Christmas apart from his adoptive parents and siblings <sigh>

I want to add friends to the list but DH won't consider it (and I don't know if they would be willing anyway).

There is no good solution and we still haven't properly decided.

PirateDinosaur Sun 17-Jul-11 20:46:06

Right now we'd have to name several legal guardians and from what I've read that can be as problematic as naming none, because then they all have to agree on decisions concerning the children for their entire childhood (rather than just agree on decisions concerning the children for a few months, which is what would happen at the moment in the (let's face it, very very unlikely) situation in which DH and I both died at the same time. In fact, that's half the problem in a way; I would like to have, say, two or three legal guardians and the children living with one of them but I understand that that's not recommended.

We do need to sort it out, but I am not going to bounce into making a decision today on the basis that a bad decision is better than no decision, because I don't believe that it is. What I would guess at my #1 choice today is different from 6 months ago, and that would have been different from a year before that. I would rather have my children's future (if it came to that, which I don't think it would) decided by a court decision on what is in their best interests under the current circumstances than by a fleeting opinion that I once held and committed to a legal document out of an urge to have something written down but that is manifestly not now in their best interests.

Pippaandpolly Tue 19-Jul-11 10:23:02

Thanks for the replies-lots of food for thought here.

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