Succession planning

Export Indicator

The percentage of mothers or primary caregivers who report having identified a standby guardian who will take care of the child in the event that she/he is not able to do so.
What it measures

To assess the extent to which parents and caregivers make succession plans for their dependent children.


Succession planning is a promising approach for increasing the extent to which parents take action to ensure a better future for their children, particularly in terms of appointing guardians. In most countries, family laws stipulate a process to appoint a guardian. This ‘legal guardian’ may be an executor of a will, or a decision maker, and could, but not necessarily, be in a position to provide care in a family environment. This indicator seeks to identify a person who would provide direct care and support to a child. The identification of a caring guardian involves other processes that together comprise succession planning. For children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS, this is particularly helpful, because it allows HIV-positive parents, while they are identifying guardians, to deal with disclosure of their status to their children, help prepare the children for the future, discuss family property with them, and seek the children’s assistance during the time of parental illness.


Number of mothers or caregivers who have identified a standby guardian to take care of the dependent child.


All mothers or caregivers who are responsible for children aged 0–17.

Method of measurement

Each woman who reports being the mother or primary caregiver for a child will be asked if she has identified a person with whom the child could live if she was not able to care for the child.

Measurement frequency

Age group:

Education: N/A

Gender: N/A

Geographic location: N/A

Pregnancy status: N/A

Sector: N/A

Target: N/A

Time period: N/A

Type of orphan: N/A

Vulnerability status: N/A

Explanation of the numerator
Explanation of the denominator
Strengths and weaknesses

When parents appoint standby guardians, they will also most likely take action to disclose their status, protect their children’s assets, help the children understand their past, and plan for their future. The indicator therefore points to a larger effort to plan succession with orphaned and other vulnerable children.
The indicator cannot be used to approximate what actually happens after death of parents, whether the identified standby guardians actually take on the role, or how they take on the role. Furthermore, the indicator does not provide any information about the strength of the social safety net for AIDSaffected children or the capacities of standby guardians.
It would be useful to determine whether the parents had talked to the guardian of choice, and if this guardian lives in the same community. This would be helpful in assessing the proportions of children likely to be displaced from their communities.
It would also be important to assess the gender of the appointed guardian. Often, women provide care and support to children, so if more males are named, then there could be a difficulty with interpreting this as the estimate of people who have planned on a guardian, since they would probably have been thinking more of an executor or financier than a caregiver.

Further information