In my will, can I name multiple people to decide how to take care of my kids?

I can’t decide on who I want to name as guardian of my kids should I pass away. Can I name multiple people and have them decide amongst themselves?

Dan

Dan

Port Moody, BC

One of the most difficult parts of estate planning is choosing someone to take care of your kids once you’re gone. In BC, this is called appointing a guardian

Most parents name a guardian for their children in their will. When it comes to providing instructions in the will, simpler is usually better, as explained here. Leaving complicated instructions (for example, naming multiple guardians and leaving it to them to decide who takes over) can lead to problems down the road.  

Instead, consider having a conversation with each person you’re thinking of appointing. Make sure they consent to acting as guardian for your kids when you pass. After all, it’s a big responsibility and may be more than some people want to take on. Once you’ve discussed it with each of them, pick one person to be the primary guardian. You can also choose one or more alternate guardians. This is someone who will step in if the primary guardian you appointed isn’t able to act. 

Two other things to be aware of:

  • Your will should create a trust for gifts you leave to any minor children. Otherwise, the minor’s share of the estate may need to be paid to the Public Guardian and Trustee — and they’ll hold onto it for the minor in trust until they turn 19. This is explained here by a lawyer who works for the Public Guardian and Trustee.

  • In your will, your trustee will be in charge of overseeing the monetary costs of raising your children, while your guardian will physically be taking care of them.

David Watts

David Watts

David Watts Notary Public
  • Reviewed in November 2020
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada

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