All parents who go through the process of planning for their child with additional needs future must do everything they can to get the right Guardians in place. At some stage in the future when you are no longer around, you must have nominated Guardians who will take over your parenting role.

I am not going to pretend that I understand what thinking about this does to a parent of a child with special needs. But I am on your side and I want to encourage every parent to tackle this important area in 2019 and to finally resolve it.

What is the role of the Guardian?

A guardian has legal custody and responsibilities of a child when both parents pass away. They can make decisions about a child’s medical care, housing, schooling, religion, financial and other areas that affect the child’s well-being.

Each child has abilities and may need more support in some areas and little or no assistance in other aspects of their lives. Again this is where the role of the Guardian’s come into play to look out for the best care for the child. This role also brings Guardians into doing a lot of advocating on behalf of the child and making sure that their voice, opinions and choices are respected.

Who comes to your mind as a Guardian for your child?

Don’t over think just write down the first person you thought of. Can you think of a second person? Ideally, you should nominate two Guardians. Some parents I work with choose one person from each side of the family, others prefer to have a couple in the role of Guardians. There are a lot of my families who don’t really have anyone and we spend a lot of time discussing options.

When do Guardians take up the role?

Hopefully not for a very long time! What I mean by this is that if life goes normally and both parents don’t pass away suddenly, then your current nominated Guardian may never actually become the legal Guardian as your Will is going to change over time as your Guardians get older. Even if one parent passes away then the other parent is still the legal Guardian and nothing really changes. I am always telling my families to assess the Guardians role every 5-years and the long-term plan is for a younger generation to eventually be nominated as the last Guardians. This would mean that as your current nominated Guardians get older then the parents need to look at younger family members. Often it is the child with special needs siblings or cousins that eventually become Guardians.

If both parents pass away, what happens?

The last people you nominated in your Will to become Guardians will then become legal Guardians to your child and take over the role of the parent. This will then give them legal permission to take over the role. Everything that is involved with being a parent is then the Guardians responsibility and your role continues until your Guardian’s see it fit to pass it on to somebody else.

As I have said I really want 2019 to be the year were parent’s priorities nominating the right Guardians for their children. To me, this would make 2019 a great year.