By Greg Atherstone, Associate Director JPS
Expatriates take great measures to plan a happy and prosperous future for themselves and their family in Singapore yet at the same time, they should also plan for the worst times as tragedies come unannounced. Such planning will help to protect their family from crisis’s. One such area that expatriates need to carefully think and plan about is appointing a temporary guardian for their children in case both parents die.
In scenarios where both husband and wife pass away and they have not appointed any temporary guardians for their children, the government will send their children to foster care for their protection. They will stay there for a period of 6-9 months until the court approves them to go to their permanent guardian. Getting raised by unfamiliar people in a foster care can be a scary prospect for the children who are already feeling traumatised due to the loss of both of their parents.
In such scenarios, parents can minimise the time their children spend in a foster care by appointing a temporary guardian for them in advance. By formally appointing a temporary guardian, a guardianship letter can be completed and a copy of their EP, Passport and Proof of address kept with their temporary guardian or lodged with a lawyer. With this in place, the child or children are taken in by the temporary guardian until such time as the permanent guardian can come to Singapore to take over.
Parents can choose any person they like as their children’s temporary guardian yet they need to live in Singapore. Also, the parents should inform the guardian about their decision ahead of time and ensure he accepts his role as a potential guardian. In case a child is an infant and each parent appoints a different guardian for him and they pass away at the same time, the appointed guardians shall act jointly as per the Guardian of Infants Act.
Parents should appoint that person as their child’s temporary guardian whom they know well and trust. He can be a family member or family friend who is very much capable of caring for additional children. One other thing that foreign parents should take note of is that they should avoid naming their domestic helpers as their child’s guardian as the helpers lose their right to reside in Singapore following the death of their employers.
Permanent guardians look after the children on an ongoing basis after the death of their parents. Like temporary guardians, permanent guardians are also appointed by the parents by mentioning them in their will, deed or through a letter lodged with a lawyer, family friends or guardians themselves. Permanent guardians may be residing in Singapore or they may be located in some other country.
For taking a child out of Singapore, permanent guardians need to bring all supporting documents like birth certificates and passports. These help them in arguing to the court that they should be given the guardianship of the child. They can use all the relevant documentation for supporting their claim to the child’s guardianship. They can use those official documents which help them to show their relation to the deceased parents of the child and for establishing an existing relationship with the child.
If you are foreign parents residing and working in Singapore, you should give a serious thought to appointing both a temporary guardian and a permanent guardian for your children in case both of you die. This decision of yours will be in the best interest of your children and protect their future.
JPS can help facilitate the guardianship letter for you to avoid being placed in foster care for 6-9 months.
Associate Director, JPS
Contact Number: 91807404
Email Address: email@example.com
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