Matthew Porter

Private Client Solicitor & Partner

It was not long after my first child was born that my wife and I decided it was time to make a Will. This was before I became a solicitor and making a Will had not ever seemed necessary before. Even then our main motivation was actually not our finances but who would be responsible for my son if my wife and I both died? Who would we want to make decisions about his day-to-day care, upbringing, schooling and health until he is 18?

If you have parental responsibility for a child you can appoint a guardian. Parental responsibility is fairly straightforward for married parents of a child but if you are not married or if you are not the birth father of a child parental responsibility can be a legal minefield in itself. If no guardian is appointed and you both die, it will be up to the court to decide who out of any willing candidates should be appointed as guardian.

Legally the appointment of a guardian of a child does not have to be made in a Will but it frequently is. The benefit of doing it in a Will is that you can make sure the financial arrangements are made clear so that your guardians and your child or children, do not suffer financially because of the extra costs of housing, feeding and generally caring for more children.

Deciding who to appoint as a guardian can be a tricky decision. Some parents cannot agree, often because there is a natural inclination to want to appoint someone from your side of the family rather than your partner’s. This can even cause parents of young children to delay making their Wills or to make a Will but not include an appointment of guardians. Imagine though, if you are having a difficult time making the decision now, how much harder will it be for your child if people are trying to agree who should be responsible for them when both of you have died?

If parents each appoint different guardians it is not a case of which of you survives the other. In fact, both appointments will be valid and your child or children would have two people (or two sets of people) who would be responsible for them if you both died. Not ideal perhaps, but certainly better than no-one having the legal right to make decisions for your child or children.

I am now a Private Client solicitor in Alton and I know the reasons why everyone, however young or old, should make a Will.

If you would like any further information about making a Will or appointing guardians for your children please call Matthew Porter on 01420 82881 or email matthew.porter@bookersandbolton.co.uk