Estate Planning and Guardianship for Doctors

It never ceases to amaze us at MEDIQ of the number of medical professionals who do not have a complete Estate plan. If you’re a parent, in addition to having your wills and life insurance to provide for your children, you need to seriously consider who you would like to provide guardianship.

What is a guardian and how should I choose one?

A legal guardian is an adult who is given the responsibility for caring for and raising your children where both parents die before your children reach adulthood.  Selecting a guardian for your child is a difficult decision.  You should consider some of the following:

  • Who is most able to care for your child?  Do they have the emotional, physical and financial ability to provide for them?
  • Who has the most similar parenting style and beliefs to you and your partner?
  • Does this person have other children and if so, would caring for your child create problems (i.e. requiring a larger car/house to accommodate them)?
  • Would the person/persons you are considering be prepared to undertake the task of raising your child?

You should narrow your selection down to one guardian, with a possible second person as a backup in case that person is unable or unwilling to become guardian at the time.

How can I formally choose a guardian for my child / children?

Once you have selected a guardian for your child/children, your first step should be to discuss your choice with that person to see how they feel about becoming guardian.  You may find that your first choice may have their own reasons not to commit to this responsibility.  If this happens you will need to consult with other potential people on your list.

When you have made your selection and that person is happy with your decision, you need to have a legal Will drawn up that specifies them as legal guardian.  It is best to have your Will drafted by a solicitor to minimise the risk of not being drawn up correctly.  Both you and your partner should specify the same person where possible.  Your Will should also settle your finances to provide for your children.

What happens if I don’t formally choose a guardian for my child/children?

Without specific written instruction in a will, where both parents were to pass away, any person with sufficient interest can apply for guardianship of your children.  In this case, the Family Court decides who should become legal guardian based on the perceived best interests of the child/children.  This is not the best scenario as the person selected as carer may not necessarily be who you would choose.

As a full service business MEDIQ Financial assists our clients in the correct preparation of their complete estate plans. Please contact our office if you wish to discuss your own situation with our team of advisers.