By Juliet Phillips-James, Director, Gomer Williams (as featured in the Llanelli Star)
Q. My husband and I are thinking of making wills to provide for who should look after our children in the event we die. It is an issue I do not like to think about, but feel it needs addressing. Could you also advise as to what would happen if me and my husband were to separate and I didn't want him to care for the children on my death?
A: Whilst an unpleasant subject to broach, it is commendable that you have been sensible enough to face it. The term you would use to describe those who you wish to care for your children in the event of you and your husband dying is guardian.
Ideally there should be two appointed in case one cannot act. You should discuss with potential guardians your intentions to ensure they are fully informed and would want such a responsibility. It could involve day-to-day long term care of your children, which they need to be aware of.
Your guardians can also be trustees of any trust fund you set up under your will for your children. They will ensure money is used to provide for children's welfare, e.g. for education. You can appoint different people to be your children's trustees if you think there may be some conflict of interests.
If you and your husband separated in the future and you appointed guardians to look after your children on your death alone, the appointed guardians would not override your husband's parental responsibility if he was willing to look after them and there were no welfare concerns around your husband's ability to care for them.
Furthermore, if you appoint a new partner under your will to be a guardian of your children (but they are not the children's parent) and you separate, this appointment is no longer valid unless the will specifically states otherwise.
A solicitor dealing with wills and trusts will be able to give you tailored advice on drawing up appropriate wills. However, a family solicitor will be able to give you some advice on separation and guardians and the various scenarios that could apply, as the above advice is not exhaustive.