If you have parental responsibility, you can choose someone to be a legal guardian for your child after you die. Their grandparents, siblings or step-parents wouldn’t automatically become their guardian in this instance. This would be decided by a court, unless someone has been named. You can appoint a guardian through a will or in writing, as long as it’s signed and dated.
If you’re the only person with parental responsibility
The guardian you name for your child would be appointed as soon as you die. They’d have priority over the surviving parent, if there was one.
If your child’s other parent wanted your child to live with them, they could challenge your decision by applying to the court for an order. They’d be asking the court to decide that your child should live with them instead of the guardian. The court would consider what would be best for your child.
If you and your child’s other parent both have parental responsibility
Either parent can name a guardian, and the guardian would only be appointed after both parents have died. If your child doesn’t have a relationship with their other parent, or if you think someone else would be more suitable to look after your child, it’s important to put this down in writing – either in a will or other document. The person you suggest as guardian won’t be appointed because your child’s other parent has parental responsibility. But your wishes would be taken into consideration if a court is involved.
If you share parental responsibility and have a child arrangements order
If you have a child arrangements order naming you as the person your child lives with, you can appoint a guardian to look after your child after you die.
In this instance, your child would live with their guardian rather than their other parent, but they’d share parental responsibility. If your child’s other parent wanted their child to live with them, they could apply to the court for an order. The court would decide based on what’s best for your child.