It is a wonderful and joyous occasion when someone agrees to be the godparents of your children. Traditionally the godparent sponsored the baptism of a child and took an interest in the child’s upbringing and personal development. Godparents were seen as spiritual co-parents to their godchildren.
Later on the godparents also received the responsibility of looking after their godchildren should something happen to their natural parents. But unfortunately someone agreeing over a cup of tea or around a dinner table to be godparents does not legally mean anything today. You have to formally appoint legal guardians for your children in your will in the case of both parents passing away at the same time.
“You have to nominate guardians by adding their full personal details to your will,” says Ruann Kruger of Kruger & Co Incorporated. “It is the decision of the couple of who should be their children’s guardians. Family or friends are usually chosen, but it is a good idea to appoint someone who can look after the kids in terms of accommodation, finances and know-how.”
He says that furthermore you have to make sure you specify how your children should be looked after. “Any benefit that the minors are entitled to, can be held by Trust and administered by nominated Trustees until they reach a certain age,” he says. Kruger suggests that this age be closer to 25 when the children can make more responsible life and long-term choices instead of squandering their inheritance at 18.
He further suggests that the Trustees of the Testamentary Trust be at least one of the legally appointed guardians and one independent person in order to establish transparency in the administration of the Trust. If you do not have these measures in place, a court application must be brought for the appointment of legal guardians. While this process is going on, the children will be held in foster care.
For advice on formally appointing guardians for your children and stipulating this in an updated will, contact us.