Naming a Guardian for Your Minor ChildrenApril 25, 2011
Choosing a Guardian
Perhaps the most important benefit of a Will is that it allows the parents to determine who will step in and continue raising their children in the unlikely event of their deaths. If there is no Will nominating a guardian, the decision is left up to the courts even though they cannot possibly know the parenting style, values, moral beliefs and child-rearing philosophy of the parent(s). The court must make a decision based on state law and in the best interests of the children, which is often difficult to determine.
Whomever they name, the first problem most couples encounter is simply imagining leaving their kids behind. No one likes to think about someone else raising their children. No one is as good as they are. Even so, they still must choose someone. So how does one go about choosing?
Here are just a few of the considerations to think about when choosing a guardian:
– Who is most able to take on the responsibility of caring for a child – emotionally, financially, physically, etc.?
– Whose personality, parenting style, values, and religious beliefs most closely match your own?
– Will your child have to move out of the area, and will that pose any problems?
– Does the person you’re considering have children of their own? Will your child fit in or be lost in the shuffle?
– Does the person have enough time and energy to devote to your child?
There are many circumstances that might warrant making changes to your guardian nomination: your guardian could move across the country or abroad; they could develop health issues that may affect their ability to care for your children; they could get divorced, or marry someone you don’t like; or you could decide that there is someone that is currently better suited for the job.
Whatever choice you make, be sure to review it frequently. After all, people do pop in and out of our busy lives. Parents should review this issue once a year, just as they would their insurance policies and investments.
Don’t Surprise Anyone
Most importantly, parents should discuss their plans with the person being nominated. You do not want your guardian to learn about their designation for the first time in the unlikely event of your death. Parents should have a discussion with the guardian and get their approval first.