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This information has been provided by Australian Lawyer, Peter Janssen


Your Will allows you to make arrangements for the care of any children that you have who are under 18 years of age when you die. This is done by selecting one or more Guardians and writing it in to your Will. For parents, this is probably the most important part of your Will. 

What is a Guardian?

A ‘guardian’ is a person who has responsibility for the long term welfare of a child and has all the powers, rights and duties that are usually vested in the child’s natural parents. 

Who can appoint a guardian?

As a general rule, each parent has the right to appoint a guardian or guardians to act after his or her death. Usually the appointment only operates if there is no surviving parent, although it is possible for a parent to appoint a guardian to act jointly with the surviving parent. Obviously a Court of law will carefully consider the wishes of the deceased parent on this sensitive issue, although ultimately if there is a dispute, then it is up to the Court to decide ‘what is in the best interests of the child’.

Who can be appointed Guardian?

Anyone you choose can be appointed – regardless of whether they are related to you or your child. You can choose one or more persons to be the guardian of your child, although disputes can arise if you select more than one person.

Select a guardian who has a deep affection for your children, but be careful about selecting very elderly parents, who may not be able to see your children through to their 18th birthday.

In addition to making a Will, we recommend that, if you have children, that you draw up a Guideline for the Guardians that you have selected to take care of your children.

This document is simply a written record prepared by you as a sole parent or as a couple, which details what you want for your children should either of you pass away.

If you would like more information on Guardianship, along with a document that sets out instructions for your selected guardians to follow, then you can purchase our online Children's Charter for $19.95.  Click here for more information.

The document contains a set of instructions on what you want for your children and covers a range of life and lifestyle issues, such as:

  • Where they will live

  • Involvement with other family members

  • Standard of living

  • Schooling

  • Religious instruction

  • Tertiary education

  • Overseas trips, other activities

  • Health issues

These guidelines do not form part of your Will, but is a separate document. Your Will selects the guardian(s) and makes financial provision for your children, but does not deal with the above personal issues. A guideline document is therefore invaluable in setting out your wishes in this respect (see Quick Tip above).

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24 April, 2014

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