Protecting Children Under 18
If You Died Yesterday, Who Would Parent Your Young Children?
If a death event occurs of both parents, then you should consider who you believe would care and provide for your child as much as you would. The Local Authourity and courts may not choose the right people who you would expect to look after your children like you would
So… What is Parental Responsibility?
By definition Parental Responsibility implies: ‘All the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to [a] child and [their] property (Children's Act 1989, ss2, 3)
A birth mother of a child will always have parental responsibility according to UK law. The only time this will not be the case is in the situation of a legal adoption of the child.(in favour of another adult)
Fathers: by law will inherit parental responsibility if they are married to the mother, named as the father on the Birth Certificate.
Also, parental responsibility can be obtained via a court order or by mutual consent of both parents via a Parental responsibility Agreement.
What Happens If Both Parents Pass Away and No Guardian is Appointed?
In the unlikely event that both parents pre-decease a child before their 18th birthday, and no guardians have been appointed, only the court will have the power to appoint a guardian.
Therefore making sure you have a parental guardianship clause in your Will, appointing those who you trust to raise your children just like you, should be appointed without further hesitation. Take the Will Quiz now to fin out what's the best will for your situation.
A Note About Child Arrangement Orders and Guardianship
For single parents or if a child's parent's are no longer together, it is important to ensure that the child has legal guardianship in the event of a parent's death. A Child Arrangement Order (CAO) is a court order that establishes which parent or guardian the child will live with and who will have parental responsibility for them.
A Child Arrangement Order is a legal document that establishes who has parental responsibility for the child and what rights each parent or guardian has. It allows parents to make arrangements that suit their individual circumstances and can also be used as an alternative to court proceedings if there is disagreement between the parents about custody. The CAO will provide clarity on the terms and conditions of both parents’ roles, responsibilities, rights and duties in respect of the child.
When a parent dies, their will is the legal instrument that gives instructions on how they would like their assets to be distributed upon their death. Without an up-to-date CAO in place, it can be difficult for a will to determine who should be appointed as the legal guardian of a child. This means that the court could be left to decide who will have custody, and the parent’s wishes may not be respected in this decision.
In conclusion, it is important for all parents to ensure that their children have legal guardians. At ONCE Wills and Trusts we can assist you with this.