Ask any parent what is the number one care and concern for his or her child and most answer lies in providing a basic education and a good home for their upbringing when they are around to do so. However in this day and age where air travel is the norm, what happens if both parents die in an air crash? Who then determines which next of kin or close family friend will take over the parenting? If there is a will left behind, the parent can appoint in the will a legal guardian of their choice.
If there is no will, the law in most countries makes the children wards of court in the interim. The court will then ask for applications from people interested in taking on the legal guardianship of the children. The merits of the success of the applications is not unlike the legal adoption process; i.e. the applicant’s suitability in terms of financial security, existing relationship with the child or children and good character, with no past criminal records.
One should note that grandparents, aunties and uncles, close family friends all have no legal right to “guardianship” or adoption as of right. A young family on a father’s job posting overseas who are isolated from their normal extended family support group in their home country put the minor children at grave risk if things go wrong. Children of tender age with travel papers attached to their parents’ passports will face difficulty leaving a foreign country to go back to their country of origin or birth.
Therefore, writing a will is essential to appoint the guardians of your choice and to outline the financial arrangements necessary for the children. Most parents may have insurance in place to support the child financially but not with appointment of a suitable financial manager in the form of a legal guardian of their choice.
Parents should not put off drawing up a will. The peace of mind that comes with the completion of a relatively simple task is securing the welfare of your minor children when you are not there to care for them.
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