Learn the practical steps you need to take and find links to more advice and support for after a death.
How to appoint someone to look after the child you care for should you die.
A testamentary guardian is a person that you appoint in your will to care for a child should you die. You can set out the caring arrangements in your will or in writing. Once appointed, a testamentary guardian takes on full parental responsibility for the child.
Who can appoint a testamentary guardian?
Guardians can be appointed by a court or privately by someone who already has parental responsibility for the child. This includes:
- a parent with parental responsibility
- kinship carers with special guardianship orders
- kinship carers who have a child arrangements order where there is no surviving person with parental responsibility
Informal kinship carers who do not have a legal order for the child they care for are unable to appoint a testamentary guardian.
You can appoint a guardian by writing a will, or simply by putting your wishes in a signed document.
Why do I need to appoint a guardian?
It is important to appoint a guardian to look after the child you are caring for, should you die. It means that you can make sure your child will be looked after by someone you trust. You should always make sure that the person you’d like to appoint is happy to take on the role of guardian, as they have a right to say no to being appointed a guardian.
If you don’t appoint a guardian for the child you care for, courts will decide on a child’s legal guardian in the event of your death. The person appointed may not be who you would’ve chosen, which is why it’s very important to put your preferences in writing.
When does testamentary guardianship end?
Guardianship ends automatically when the child reaches the age of 18 or if the sole guardian dies while the child is under 18. A court can also end testamentary guardianship, following an application from anyone with parental responsibility, or the child themselves.
The following organisations offer legal help and advice.