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BMO Harris Private Banking

December 15, 2011 09:30 ET

Who Will Take Care of the Children? BMO Study Shows Majority of Canadian Parents have Not Appointed a Guardian

- Only 37 per cent of Canadian parents have appointed a guardian

- 80 per cent of parents would look to family when choosing a guardian

- Majority don't know how much money they would leave to a guardian to cover additional expenses

- The holiday season is an excellent time to begin discussing guardianship with family and friends

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 15, 2011) - BMO Harris Private Banking today released the results of a study examining the topic of guardianship among Canadians with children under the age of 18; the study found that two-thirds of Canadian parents (63 per cent) have not named a guardian for their children and/or do not have a will.

Guardians are legally responsible for the care of a child should something happen to his/her parents. The most legally effective way for parents to identify a guardian is to specify their choice in a will.

Although the majority of respondents have not officially appointed someone as guardian, the survey, conducted by Leger Marketing, revealed that 80 per cent of Canadians with minor children have thought about who they would appoint, with family topping the list:

  • Siblings (47 per cent)
  • Parents (17 per cent)
  • Other family members such as grandparents and aunts/uncles (16 per cent)

The study also found that, when appointing a guardian, the overwhelming majority (98 per cent) consider parenting skills to be the most important factor, followed by financial stability (93 per cent).

"It's good to see that Canadian parents with children under the age of 18 are thinking about who they would have take care of their loved ones, but they need to follow through with the next logical step and make it official," said Sara Plant, Vice President and National Director Wealth Planning and Trust Services, BMO Harris Private Banking. "If something dire were to happen and a guardian has not been appointed, the process can become quite complex."

Ms. Plant also added that, in order to appoint a guardian, parents should do so in their will. The BMO study indicated that 40 per cent of Canadians with minor children do not have a legal will.

The study also found that making the final decision of who to choose can be quite challenging, with almost one-third of respondents (29 per cent) who indicated that if they had to appoint a guardian they thought the decision would require more consideration than they originally thought.

Other Key Findings:

  • More than half of Canadians with minor children (51 per cent) do not know how much money they would leave to their guardian for extra expenses
  • The majority of respondents (62 per cent) would willingly accept if asked to be a guardian

Ms. Plant advised that the holiday season, traditionally a time when families come together, is an excellent opportunity to discuss the issue of guardianship with one's spouse, children and/or potential guardians.

"Choosing a guardian is a delicate process that requires a considerable amount of thought and preparation, and is not something that should be done hastily or taken lightly," concluded Ms. Plant. "As the holidays approach, now is a good time to sit down with family members or friends and have an open and honest conversation about guardianship."

The online survey was conducted by Leger Marketing among 374 Canadians with minor children, between November 14 and November 17, 2011.

For more information, please visit http://www.bmo.com/harrisprivatebanking.

About BMO Harris Private Banking

Backed by the heritage, stability and resources of BMO Financial Group, professionals at BMO Harris Private Banking are responsible for the successful management of wealth by providing expert advice and highly personalized services in banking, investment management, estate, trust, succession planning and philanthropic services - all in a coordinated and confident approach. With 34 offices across the country, including Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

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