By Michael Spiegel, Executive General Manager of Trustee Services at State Trustees

The birth of a child is an exciting time. A new chapter of your life begins when a baby is born, but it is also a time that you may consider the fragility of life, and the impact that unexpected circumstances may have on your loved ones.

While you can’t control what happens to you or your children, you can create a contingency plan in case you or your partner passes away via your will, to ensure that your wishes for your child are formally documented in case you and your partner were to die.

Why should you appoint a guardian for your child or children?

Choosing a guardian for your child or children is one of the most difficult yet important decisions you can make.

In the event of the death of both parents, if there are no specific written instructions in a will and in the event of the death of both parents, any person with sufficient interest such as grandparents, aunties or uncles can apply for guardianship of your children.

In such situations, the Family Court decides who should become the legal guardian based on the best interests of the child. This is not ideal as the person chosen by the Family Court may not necessarily be the person that you would choose to care for your child.

Choosing a guardian for your child or children is one of the most difficult yet important decisions you can make.

So, how do you choose a guardian?

While no one will compare to you or your partner as a parent, there are a few things you can consider to choose the next best person to care for your child:

  • Does your lifestyle, values and beliefs align with your chosen guardian?
  • Is there someone in your life your child might already have a bond with?
  • Would there be a significant life transition for your child such as moving location?
  • Who would be financially, emotionally, or physically ready to take on guardianship?
  • Does your chosen guardian already have children, or are they planning to?

Other things to consider, beyond the selection and appointment of a guardian, are the details of how this may play out.

For example, you should consider whether your child will move in with the guardian, or if you would rather them continue living in the family home, which may mean the guardian needs to relocate.

In instances where the nominated guardians are the grandparents, you should look at their living situation, as a retirement village may not be suitable for a young child.

There are a few things to weigh up when choosing who the next best person is to care for your child.

These factors are all integral when it comes to who might be the most suitable guardian for your child, but it is important to discuss your intentions, obtain consent and discuss your expectations with the prospective guardian.

March is Do Your Will Month. Throughout March, State Trustees is offering 20 per cent off all their will products. For more information, visit State Trustees.