Special guardianship

Apply to legally take parental responsibility for a child you look after

Planning for the future

If a couple have been appointed as special guardians, the order continues to have effect as long as one of them survives. 

Appointing a guardian in case of death

A special guardian can appoint another person to act as the child’s guardian in the event of their death. The appointment must be made in writing and be:

  • dated
  • signed by two witnesses

This can include a will.

A guardian appointed on a special guardian’s death will not be a special guardian. This means that they will not have overriding parental responsibility for the child. Instead parental responsibility will be shared with the child’s parents.

A guardian may in turn appoint another person to be the guardian in the event of their own death.  

Once the special guardian dies, the Local Authority’s duties under the special guardianship support regulations will no longer apply. This means that any appointed guardian will not have the right to the same support as the special guardian. 

If there is no appointed guardian

Sometimes there is no appointed guardian on the death of the last surviving special guardian. This means that any person can apply to the court to be appointed guardian. Alternatively, the court can appoint somebody during family proceedings.  

If there is nobody appointed or available to be a guardian the parents will be left as the only people with parental responsibility.

Making a will

Special Guardians are encouraged to think about making a will to:

  • appoint a guardian
  • consider how the child will be supported

The child will not have any automatic right to inheritance. However, they may have the right to be supported out of the special guardian’s estate as a dependent.