One important element you can manage in your last will and testament is guardianship of any dependents.

When you grant someone guardianship, they have the legal right to be responsible for the food, housing, healthcare and other necessities of someone deemed incapable of providing these things for themselves. This normally means children under the age of 18.

If you intend to assign guardianship in your will, it is important that you should speak with anyone you intend to name as a guardian before doing so, therefore preparing them for the possibility (however unlikely) of taking responsibility for your dependents. This is important because guardianship is a significant responsibility. Guardians named in a will also have the right to turn down the duty.

It is also important to discuss your decision with anyone else with an interest in your children’s welfare as they could potentially challenge your choice of guardian. If a case like this comes to court, the child’s welfare and wellbeing will be considered and a decision will be made – this can be a very unpleasant process at a time that is already distressing.

If you have step children and wish to deal with their guardianship, we advise you to visit a solicitor as the situation can cause complications and depends on their legal relationship with you. 

Information checked August 2015