One great reason to have a Will, is that it allows you to name a guardian for your minor children in the event of your death. In your Will, you can specify that funds will be accessible to the guardian for the benefit of your child(ren) so as not to impose undue hardship on your chosen guardian.
Often, if the chosen guardian is married, the Testator (also known as the Will maker) feels compelled to name that person and their spouse to act jointly as guardian for their minor children in the event of their death.
In today’s day and age, however, marital breakdown seems to be more the norm than the exception. In Canada, separation and eventual divorce account for nearly 60% of marriages at the end of the 20 year mark and that trend is increasing every year. The question becomes, if your joint guardians separate or divorce, what happens to your children? Do they become the subject of custody arrangements? Would you want your former brother-in-law or former sister-in-law acting as the guardian to your children and receiving a portion of the funds to care for those children?
The same questions arise when you appoint your best friend and his/her spouse to act as guardians. Do you know or like your best friend’s spouse enough that if their relationship broke down, you would feel comfortable with having that person continue to act as your child’s guardian?
It therefore becomes important to note that if choosing a guardian, it is encouraged to consider only naming the person with whom you have the closer relationship with: if it is a family member, choose the person you have a blood relation to; if it is friends, appoint the person you have a stronger relationship with. Doing so can overcome some of the issues that arise with the trend towards marital breakdown.
Also, keep in mind that your named guardian may decide not to act. So always make sure you appoint an alternate.
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