Appointing a guardian
24 Nov 2016
By Shadforth Financial Group
Why should you appoint a guardian for your children?
Appointing a guardian for your children will be beneficial if both you and the other parent die before the children are 18. You can provide the guardian with an outline of specific factors you want them to consider in the raising of your children. You are also nominating a person who will be responsible for the care and welfare of your children and for making important lifestyle decisions on their behalf. You can appoint a guardian in your Will but your decision can be overruled by the Family Court if it considers this to be in your children’s best interests.
Are the powers and responsibilities of the guardian the same as a trustee?
No, they’re different. A guardian is responsible for the daily and long term care and welfare of your child and for making important lifestyle decisions on their behalf. The guardian must ensure that the child is adequately housed, clothed and educated. A guardian does not have any control over, or power regarding, the assets of your estate or trust funds established for your children under your Will — the trustee you nominate in your Will has this responsibility. While this separation of duties may act as an effective ‘check and balance’, it is important that the trustee and guardian are able to communicate easily and work together in the best interests of your children.
Before you appoint a guardian in your Will, you should discuss the appointment with your intended guardian and consider whether they’re able to accept the responsibility, are of a suitable age and understand your views on how you wish your children to be raised. The guardian will need money to provide for your children’s welfare and there is standard wording that can be written in your Will that gives the trustee the power to provide income and capital for the maintenance, support and education of your children. You also need to be aware of potential issues for the guardian in relation to your children having a potential claim on the guardian’s estate and any super benefits if the guardian dies.
If you would like more information about appointing a guardian, please contact your financial adviser.