This is a hard one. The girls definately deserve to know their father passed away as soon as possible though. My father died when I was 11, and my family waited to tell me until almost a week after it had happened. When I found out I was completely furious that the fact had been kept from me. These girls are young, but they are not little children anymore- they are approaching a very difficult age already, where they feel they are entitled to being treated like an adult and being just as informed on issues as any adult. You need to tell these girls that their father has passed, but that he will always be there for them in spirit, so maybe that can help with the blow. Also, how did their father pass away? This fact can be vital in telling them. If it was from an issue like drugs, alcohol or something, then you might want to just tell them he passed from complications, rather than letting it seem like he was irresponsible and did not care. With their father having passed away, the girls will most likely go to live with their mother, however since you say the 14 year old went "homocidal" on their mother, I would suggest you look out for both the 14 year old as well as their mother and put an appeal in with the court about the custody issue. If you feel like you could care for these girls and give them a (much needed) fresh start in life, I would go for it. From the sound of it, what these kids now is help becoming stable (both emotionally as well as in life). It's up to you now to provide that to them as well as to let them know that their dad would have wanted the best for them. And make sure these girls go to counseling as well, at least once a week, because it is NOT normal behavior for any 11 year old to be having panic attacks, as well as any 14 year old to be going "homocidal" or "suicidal".