What can we learn from the sitcom, How I met your Mother?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the iconic series ‘How I Met Your Mother’, in a nutshell it’s a TV show about life, love and friendship generously sprinkled with moments of comedic relief. In the episode ‘Who wants to be a Godparent?’ Marshall and Lilly struggle with writing their Wills, because they are unable to decide who’s going to act as the godparent of their newly born son Marvin.

In America the role of the godparent is to assume responsibility for their God children in the event of the parents’ death. There’s also a whole religious aspect to the title of godparent, but we won’t be going into that.

How does it work in NSW?

Here in NSW, when deciding who is going to take care of your children in the event of your death, what you’re deciding is who you are going to appoint as the Guardian(s) of your minor children.

Marshall and Lilly were spoilt for choice and couldn’t decide, so they opted to cleverly solve their dilemma by requiring their potential nominees to compete in a trivia contest where the highest scorer got to be the godparent to little Marvin. Cue Barney, Robyn and Ted detailing the wacky ways they would handle sticky but common scenarios most parents face. In typical TV land Marshall and Lilly end up nominating all three as Marvin’s godparents, which as an audience leaves us feeling all warm and cozy and that the right decision had been made. But, unless Barney, Robyn and Ted plan on living together, that’s going to be a complicated arrangement and probably not that stable for little Marvin.

Being a parent is the hardest job in the world, well maybe next to choosing who you would like to be a parent to your children in the event that you no longer can. Sure there are plenty of times throughout the week where your kids drive you so nuts you fantasise about leaving them on a stranger’s doorstep…..well maybe not a stranger’s. Nevertheless, when it comes time to draft your Will, deciding who to nominate to step in as Guardian for any of your minor children in the event of your death is no easy task.

What are my options to appoint a Guardian?

You can nominate multiple people like Marshall and Lilly did, in fact you can nominate up to four people as Guardians to your minor children. For example:

  • You could nominate 4 people to act as your joint testamentary guardians, this means they act together.
  • Or you could nominate people in order, for example nominating a person as Guardian 1 and if that person can’t act then your nomination for Guardian 2 would step in and so on and so forth.
  • Or, you could nominate 2 people to act jointly in the first instance, and you can nominate 2 people as your reserve guardians in the event your first nomination fails.

The combinations are endless, well maybe not endless, but rattling them all off here would become a bit tedious to read so if you would like more information please give us a call to talk through your options.

One last consideration.

Ok, one last one, but only because it’s important. You could also nominate someone to act as a joint testamentary guardian alongside the surviving parent. However, the surviving parent could object to that arrangement in which case your nominated Guardian would have to apply to the Court.

Choosing the right person to be a Guardian.

Because the emotional aspect of this decision can be so monolithic, it’s easy to lose sight of the practical considerations, such as where your potential Guardian(s) live? Where they live amongst other things would dictate whether your children would have to change schools, which would make an already difficult time for them that much harder. A lot of people would like to nominate their own parents. However, consideration needs to be afforded to the likelihood that your parents would probably predecease you, or their age may become restrictive to their ability to perform the role.

For a parent this question is probably the most difficult to answer when deciding to have your Will drafted. Nevertheless, don’t let the difficulty of it prevent you from putting a Will in place, as it’s better to make a decision rather than leaving it to be decided not only for you but for your children after you’re gone……. Afterall, you can always change your Will later if it turns out that you’ve nominated someone who later decides to relive their youth and runaway to bartend on a tropical island somewhere.

If you don’t have a current Will that appoints a Guardian for your Children contact us on 9523 5535  to discuss your options so you have peace of mind that your Children will be looked after.

If you complete an Estate Plan with Southern Waters Legal we will run through a complimentary Memorandum of Wishes with you which will cover everything from:

  • How you would like your guardian to approach sport with your child?
  • How you would like the children’s inheritance to be used?
  • What type of high school you would like the kids to attend?
  • Are there any people in your children’s lives that you wish your guardian to encourage an ongoing relationship with?

Kind of like a life manual to help guide the way. It covers things you may have already thought about and might encourage you to bring some conversations forward so you know that you are all on the same page if anything could happen.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is provided as general information only. It is not intended to be legal advice and it should not be used or relied on as legal or professional advice.

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