DUTIES of GUARDIANS
1. You may be appointed to act jointly with other guardians. If called upon, you may already have agreed which part of the child rearing role you will undertake — or you may need to decide this at the time with the other appointed guardians.
2. The surviving parent usually assumes full custody of minor children if the parents were married. Even if the parents were divorced the surviving parent is normally entitled to resume full custody of minor children; however, this right will not necessarily be exercised — divorced testators may still choose to name friends or relations as the first choice for guardians. Unmarried fathers do not assume automatic custody rights unless a parental responsibility agreement is in place.
3. The ultimate decision on who will act as guardians to minor children rests with the local Social Services. Naturally they will try to abide by the wishes expressed in a legally valid Will whenever possible.
4. Guardians may also be appointed as executors and trustees in the same Will. It is useful if at least one guardian is also appointed to be an executor and trustee so that funds can be advanced most conveniently when required.
5. Guardians require the maximum flexibility for living arrangements and the use of funds. All normal requirements can be catered for with a comprehensive selection of Trustee Powers which should be included in a professionally drafted Will. Whatever is informally agreed with the parents at the time of the appointment, guardians should not commit themselves to specific arrangements which they may not be able to fulfil in the future.
Probate Registries will recognise a maximum of four executors acting jointly. In practice executors will decide amongst themselves how the work is to be shared. Once appointed, executors cannot be removed if they wish to take up their duties. However, an executor or guardian is also entitled to refuse to accept an appointment if they wish. Personal circumstances may change; it may not be practicable to accept appointments agreed in good faith at the time of a Will being written.