Who will take care of my children if I die without a Will?

If you have children under 18, have you ever considered what would happen to them if you were to die? Who would look after them?

Guardianship

For many people, appointing people to look after their children if they die is one of the most important functions of a will. These people – guardians – will have “parental responsibility” for the children. A person with parental responsibility is entitled to take decisions on behalf of a child for example about education, medical treatment and where they will live. Having parental responsibility does not, in general, mean that person is financially responsible for the child. A guardianship will only be effective if no surviving parent has parental responsibility for the child. In other words, usually, if one parent dies but another survives the surviving parent will have parental responsibility.

When does a parent have parental responsibility?

  • If the child’s parents are married at birth, then both will have parental responsibility
  • If not, the mother will have parental responsibility
  • A father will acquire parental responsibility if the parents subsequently marry or if he is named on the child’s birth certificate (for children born after 1 December 2003) or under a court order
  • Adoptive parents have parental responsibility

What if there’s no one with parental responsibility?

If both you and the other parent were to die and there is no guardian appointed for your children, then the courts would appoint someone instead.
This could mean that someone you wouldn’t have chosen will be being left to bring up your children. It can also cause delay at what will already be an upsetting and difficult time. This can all be avoided by appointing guardians in your will.

Getting parental responsibility

Even if you think your estate is small and you have very little to leave in a will, if you have children it is always worth making a will to make sure you get to choose their guardian.
Surely it is clear to see if you’re a parent the most important thing you can do for your children is to make sure they’re cared for by the people you would choose if anything were to happen to you. With an Affio will we’ll take you through all the important factors you need to consider for your children, giving you tips and advice along the way. We’ve made it all so easy that not having a will in place shouldn’t be an option.

See also:

What is a guardian?
How do I appoint a guardian to take care of my children if they are under 18 when I die?
Who should be appointed as a guardian?