Godparents and guardians play an important role in a child’s life. Many centuries ago godparents were responsible for caring for a child should that child be orphaned. Today, godparents do not have any legal responsibility.
A godparent might help parents raise a child in the Christian faith to provide spiritual guidance and support to the child. Godparents are often chosen at a child’s baptism.
Legal guardians assume the role of the parent if the child’s parents were to pass away. Legal guardians are most often appointed through a Will.
Godparents and legal guardians have different roles. The best way to make sure that parents’ wishes regarding guardianship are respected is to state them explicitly in the parent’s Will.
Often godparents do not change during a child’s lifetime. On the other hand, the legal guardians can change. Sometimes parents do not make a guardianship designation for their children in a Will because they cannot select a guardian. That is not generally an issue because one can change his or her Will several times in their lifetime and change the names of the legal guardians. As personal circumstances change, and families relocate and grow, legal guardians might need to change.
It is possible for one’s godparents and legal guardians to be the same people. However, additional legal steps must be taken to recognize a godparent as child’s potential legal guardian. Guardians must be appointed within a parents’ Will. Without that step, a godparent cannot be guaranteed to be child’s legal guardian.
Article written by: Victoria Garner