Choosing a guardian for your children: Take time today to secure their future

October 2012

    

Making a decision about who should raise your children in the event that something happens to you is not easy. However, as difficult as it is, taking the time to choose an appropriate guardian (tutor in Quebec) for your children will provide you peace of mind and will ensure someone guides and supports them through young adulthood and into maturity.

Once the guardian you have chosen accepts the responsibility, you should discuss your values, and beliefs including educational and lifestyle goals you believe are essential in raising your children. Periodically check with your guardian to ensure they are still willing and able to undertake this responsibility. As children mature, speak with them to ascertain that they are content with your choice of guardian. A guardian chosen for young children may not necessarily be the right person for teenagers.

Legal considerations

While the guardianship appointment should be discussed with a lawyer, you should consider the following: 
  • Write a memorandum or letter, dated and signed, that explains your reasons for appointing a particular guardian and consider setting out your wishes concerning religion and schooling.
  • There is always the possibility that a court may choose to ignore your appointment if it is not in the best interest of the children.
  • Legislation governing the guardianship of children varies from province to province, so ensure you consult with a local lawyer.
  • If you are separated or divorced, the non-custodial parent will probably be named guardian as there is a natural bias towards keeping the parent and children together unless there are issues which suggest this would not be in their best interests.
  • Under the Quebec Civil Code the right to appoint a tutor belongs exclusively to the last surviving parent or the last parent who is able to exercise tutorship, as the case may be. The father and mother exercise tutorship together unless one parent is deceased or prevented from expressing his wishes or from doing so in due time. Where the custody of children is decided by judgment, the tutorship continues to be exercised by the father and mother, unless the court, for grave reasons, decides otherwise.
  • Guardianship should be reviewed annually.

Financial considerations

Making appropriate financial arrangements will ensure you don’t leave the costs of raising your children up to your guardian. Consider investing in a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) and/or an in-trust account for your children. If you designate your children as the beneficiary of your RRSP or life insurance policy, the funds will likely be under the control of a court official until the children reach the age of majority (unless you have made specific arrangements in your Will). The same would happen if your die without a Will while your children are under the age of majority.


    

Take control today

It is so easy to put off doing what we don’t want to think about. But, naming a guardian ensures that you control who will assume that important role not the courts. Should you wish to receive our complimentary publication on the subject and a Worksheet entitled Choosing a Guardian to help provide guidance, please contact your Richardson GMP Investment Advisor.

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