Wills are a necessary document for every person, and even more, for every parent regardless their age and status.

Surprisingly, people are afraid of preparing one because they are confused by the legal terminology behind wills.

A lot of people that decide it is time to draft a will to protect their families and property find it difficult to understand the different legal roles they have to assign to trusted people.

Two of these roles are: Executor and guardian

These roles are completely different and the people who will need to take on the responsibilities that go with them, would be quite different as well.

Let’s look at them in detail:

1) A will executor

This is the person who takes control of your assets and property and makes sure everything goes to whoever you want it to. The executor has the power to put the will in action – distribute assets and make decisions final. They are also responsible for funeral arrangements and locating the will.

2) The guardian

A guardian is the person that will take care of any children that are left without parents and will provide them with care and make living arrangements for them.

An executor will assign the care of a child to the guardian.

Both roles are very important and as shown quite different.

How to choose an executor and guardian

If you are a single parent or your spouse and you are both preparing wills, one of the most important decisions to take is who will take care of your children once you are gone.

The guardian can be part of your family (usually grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) but can also be another family, friends or anyone who you think will make the best arrangements for your children.

When choosing a guardian, it is important to have a discussion with the prospective candidates – are they willing to become guardians and will they have sufficient income to support the healthy development of your children.

It might be advisable to include the guardians of your children also as beneficiaries of the will to make sure that you provide the best financial base for your children’s growth.

When you chose your will executor you need to make some considerations as well. This needs to be a person that has at least brief understanding of legal and financial matters. It also needs to be someone close to the family that will understand and respect your decisions.

Many people choose a professional executor for their will and that’s the smart thing to do. That is why executors will usually get paid for what they do.

One thing to remember is that the role of the executor is not a sign of great gratitude and honour (as it is with the guardian role).

Usually the executor has a burdensome task of splitting assets and making sure everyone is happy which is rarely possible.

Executors often get blamed for not being fair and you need to consider these factors when choosing yours. In any case, talk to the prospects first and make sure they understand the responsibility involved.

While your children’s guardian needs to be a person you can trust with your life and are sure that your children will accept and love, the role of the executor is more suitable for your bank, financial advisor or lawyer.

By choosing an external service you make sure none of your family members have to deal with legal and financial regulations in their grief.

Have you completed your will yet? Did you find it hard to select your executor or guardian? Please SHARE below.

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  • having a Will and stating clearly what you wish to happen with your children is very important. Sadly my cousin passed away and left two boys that were ripped from the family that they knew and loved and they were put with thier fathers family. A family that they didnt know. They are adults now and had a horrible childhood.


  • A very well written and easy to understand article. I would still recommend seeking legal advice before settling on such matters.


  • whats the differnece

    • Read the article as it explains this for you.


  • Really such a good read thanks for sharing!


  • what is the differnce between an executor and guardian

    • The article explains it very well.


  • So much careful consideration is needed here.


  • looking exellent


  • Be very careful who you choose as an executor.


  • Very clear advice.


  • Thanks so much for this article. I’m off to read the others now.


  • Thank you for posting this! I had no idea


  • Very difficult to select both. But easier for us as parents who know our children best rather than someone being left to agonise over the decision after we have gone.


  • My husband and I made wills years ago but not since we had kids. We really should update them.


  • Choosing a guardian is the most difficult decision. And we have not yet decided. We thought we had settled on two adults/guardian parents, but as our son has grown, their suitability has changed. It’s an ongoing process for us to sort through this.


  • Good advice. My husband and I should organise a will.


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