Providing for Children

Guardianship and Money

Parents—whether they’re single parents or not—worry about who will look after their kids if they die unexpectedly. That’s why all provinces allow you to appoint a person to take care of your children if you become unable to do so. Depending on where you live, this person may be called a guardian, custodian or caretaker.

 

Whatever it’s called, the guardianship of children raises a lot of complicated legal issues. If you’re preparing a Will and wish to protect your children, you really should speak to a lawyer. You don’t want to get this wrong. 

 

Choosing a guardian requires very careful thought. In some provinces, such as Ontario, the appointment through only lasts for 90 days. Another big issue is money; financial planning is key. Will the guardian have control over any money left behind to provide for the kids? Will he or she be entitled to financial compensation?

 

Who is a “Child?”

The definition of a child can vary from province to province. A “child” could be:

 

  • An adopted child
  • A step-child
  • A child born outside of marriage

As well, age of majority varies from one province to another. 

 
 
Trusts for Your Child’s Education and Welfare

If you leave behind minor children when you die, there are smart ways to provide for them. Children are not allowed to own property until they reach the age of majority (18 in most provinces). But, for many parents, even that is too young. 

 

Here’s where having your Will prepared by a lawyer is a big advantage. He or she can help you set up a trust to hold the property until your children reach an age you choose. For example, you can have your trustee (who is very commonly your executor) hold the property until your child turns 25. In the meantime, your trustee can make payments out of this money for the child’s education and welfare. This is something you should discuss with your lawyer.

 

Remember: If you don’t set up a trust in your Will, your child will get his or her share of your estate at the age of majority.
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