What about custody of the children?

8 July 2022

As financial advisors, we ask ourselves the question several times every day: ‘What if…? If “a fire would break out in this relationship”, what are the financial consequences? Or if this customer retires, what will be his or her income? For families, for example, the question arises: “What if one of the parents dies unexpectedly”?

Parental Authority

For families with children under age, an important question is: who will take care of the children if one or both parents, for example as a result of a traffic accident, suddenly die?
Is there a marriage or registered partnership? Then both parents have parental authority. If one of the parents dies, the other parent automatically receives sole parental authority. On the basis of this parental authority, this parent has the right and the duty to care for the children and to raise them. In addition, they must perform formal legal acts on behalf of the minor children.

What if a single parent with custody dies?

Due to various causes, there can only be one parent with parental authority. A few examples:

  1. The other parent has died earlier.
  2. There is another parent, but not married to the other parent and there is no registered partnership.
  3. In the event of divorce, both ex-partners normally retain parental authority. But the judge can decide something else about this.

If a single parent dies,  a legal guardian must be appointed for the minor children. The same applies if both parents die at the same time, for example in a plane crash. The parents can appoint a guardian themselves when they are alive. Didn’t they? Then a judge will appoint one.

Appoint the guardian of choice

When you are alive, you can indicate in your will who you want to appoint as guardian for your children. As a parent, you can also  have that recorded digitally. This can be done without costs on the (government) site authority register.  (https://formulier.rechtspraak.nl/burger/familie/voogdij-na-overlijden/ouder-1/inleiding) If you have appointed a guardian both in your will and in the digital register, the registration registered last applies in the event of death.

Costs of raising a child

The death of one of the parents has not only major emotional consequences, but also important financial consequences. Dutch budgeting institute Nibud indicates that with an average income, a child in the phase up to and including primary school (0-12 years) costs more than € 50,000. The years of high school (12-18 years) will need another € 30,000. So that adds up to € 80.000,- before university costs are factored in.

In the event of death, a financial problem may arise

The parent who only continues parental authority is – in addition to the loss of his or her life partner – not only confronted with the additional care responsibilities for the children, but possibly also with the loss of part of the family income. This while the fixed costs will remain at least the same.

And what about the nice sister or brother who once indicated that he wanted to be a guardian if …. This person is also suddenly confronted with extra financial expenses for the children under care. Out of goodness (and also because most think that it will never happen anyway) many people promise that they are willing to act as guardian if the brother or sister dies. The financial consequences of this and the question of whether they can be borne in practice are often overlooked.

Arranging guardianship is also arranging finances

As a financial advisor, we encourage parents to indicate how they would like to  see custody arranged for their minor children. It is also necessary that they arrange that this is financially possible. The costs to arrange this properly are in most cases very low. For the monthly costs of, for example, a streaming service, you solve this financial risk.

Our advice: When you think: “Yes, we really should arrange that now” then please really do that! Especially now that you can digitally indicate at home who you want to be appointed as a guardian. That’s something that’s done in a few minutes. And arranging that extra insurance does not take much effort either; we gladly arrange that for you.

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