I read a very interesting blog recently by Eoin O’Gorman (referenced with Eoin’s permission; please see www.ogormansolicitors.ie) , a Wexford based Solicitor who wrote about a question he often gets asked namely whether the selection of Godparents for their children is the same as naming legal guardians for their children. The answer he gives is no; Guardians and Godparents are entirely different roles. The former is a legally recognized position and the latter is a ceremonial title significant only in religious and cultural right. A guardian is a person, if formally appointed in a will, assumes all parental responsibilities for the child when the parents die.
He goes onto say that this is not to say that the same person cannot be both Godparent and Guardian. However, the necessary legal steps must be taken in order to ensure that the Godparent is formally recognized in the eyes of the court to be a child’s legal guardian.
In practice, it is common for parents to name different Godparents for each of their children but in reality who would want their children to be separated from one another in cases of tragedy, all parents would surely prefer one guardian to care for all of their children.
The only way to ensure this happens is to create a will that explicitly names a legal guardian and thereby ensuring children are cared for by their preferred persons.
During our Financial Advice process we always reiterate the importance of making a Will, not least for the above reason.
We also always advise on the importance of adequate life cover. None of us want to think about the consequences of a terrible tragedy that would take us away from our children but I’m sure we would all feel better knowing that we had appointed Guardians for them and made provision for them financially to leave the chosen Guardians in a position to be able to take on the role without onerous financial stress.