Factors to Consider When Choosing a Guardian for Your Children
There comes a time while making long-term estate plans that some people will need to choose a guardian for their minor children, should the worst happen. In fact, it should be one of the first decisions you make when thinking long-term, and it should be made as early as possible. This a tough but important decision to make. There are things to consider when thinking about a guardian, and it should be a well-thought-out decision.
First, it is important to consider the parenting skills of the person or people you are considering naming a guardian. You will want to make sure they are up to the task of being full-time parents to your children, should the unthinkable happen. It may be worth considering someone who already has children and can handle parenthood.
Find a Stable Home
Considering living situations is also important. You will want your children to grow up in a nice, stable home, and your choice of guardian should reflect that. Do they have the means to care for your children well and give them a good life? How are the schools, and what’s the neighborhood like? What’s their financial situation like? Can they afford to care for your children properly? Do they have a similar world view to you, and do they share your values? These are things to consider as you move through the process.
Consider the Age of the Potential Guardian
Consider the age of who you are choosing to be a guardian. Are they young enough to be able to handle children? Conversely, if they are younger, children might be seen as an obstacle to career goals. It is important to feel them out and get their thoughts on caring for your children. For many, it is a great honor, but they need to be able to step up should the situation call for it. Don’t automatically rule out family who isn’t as close as others, especially if it would keep your children in the area they live in now. A move can turn a child’s world upside down, even more than it already has been.
Guardian of Person vs. Guardian of Property
Perhaps you believe the best person to raise your child would not be the best at managing any money left in your estate for the benefit of your child. In that case, it may be worth discussing with an attorney the consideration of splitting the responsibility for your child’s person from their property.
While it is not always pleasant to think about choosing a guardian for your children, there are plenty of good reasons to do it. If you have not done it, and the worst-case scenario happens, the court decides who cares for your children. That may not always be the person you would choose. There are other issues to consider, as well. While a judge making these decisions will always try to rule with an eye toward children receiving the best care possible, not planning ahead presents other obstacles. For instance, your close family may receive guardianship, while you may have preferred a close friend. Children may also be placed into foster homes while these decisions play out in court. It can be even more complicated in families where the parents are divorced.
Making these decisions can be difficult and complicated. At the end of the day, you want to do what’s right for your children. Communication is key, as communicating what your needs are will help make it clear to a potential guardian. As you move through the process, it may be worth consulting with an experienced estate attorney, who can help talk you through the necessary considerations.
Planning for Your Future? Contact The Mattar Firm.
Whether you are looking to set up a simple will or are looking to assign guardians to your children should something happen to you, The Mattar Firm is here to help. Our Estate Planning attorneys work day in and day out to help clients just like you. We have the experience to execute your wishes. Call today: 239-222-2222.