SIX THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN NAMING A GUARDIAN FOR YOUR CHILDREN
If you were to pass away tomorrow, who would be the guardian for your minor children? It’s a tough question to answer and one that many people have never even considered.
One of many benefits of creating an estate plan through a wills lawyer O’Fallon is that you get to name a guardian for your kids. If you don’t, a court will decide and the court may not choose the same person you would.
Here are six things to consider when naming a guardian for your children:
#1 Does the prospective guardian have a genuine interest in your children’s well- being?
Naming someone just because it’s the logical choice is not the best way to choose a guardian. Rather, you should analyze their own financial and family circumstances. If a sister has four children, how much time can she devote to your two children if you were to pass?
#2 Does the prospective guardian have the same values as you do?
It’s extremely important to consider the religious, financial, family and moral values of the person you think might be a good fit to be guardian of your children. Often we don’t know these values because discussing religion and finances in our culture is considered a faux pas. For purposes of naming a guardian, however, it’s best to examine these aspects closely.
#3 Where does the prospective guardian live?
Clients often want a guardian who checks every box except they live out of state. If that’s the case, would where they live contribute to your feelings about that person serving as guardian? As we know, every state in America has positives and negatives to living there. Things like the educational system, cost of living and social factors also must be weighed.
Additionally, put yourself in child’s position: After losing a parent (or both parents) do we want to then have them move to a new state where they have no friends, aren’t familiar with the area and which may not the level of schooling they’ve grown accustomed to?
#4 Does the prospective guardian want to serve as guardian?
I’ve noticed that often my clients have not discussed the idea of being guardian with their chosen family member. This is a huge mistake, for obvious reasons. The level of commitment you are asking the guardian to take is almost unequaled to anything you could otherwise ask of them. This situation requires a heart to heart discussion between you and the person you desire to be guardian and from that discussion you’ll need to make sure their commitment is not based in a feeling of obligation. Ultimately, they should feel they have a right to say no, without fear of jeopardizing their relationship with you.
#5 Is the prospective guardian a great fit but their spouse or significant other not?
Let’s say a brother is a terrific guy and the perfect fit to be guardian for his nieces and nephews. But he’s dating or married to someone that you feel is lacking in some way. Maybe lacking in big ways.
The recognition that this could be a potential problem for your children is important. That’s because your brother may legally be the guardian but their spouse or significant other is practically a replacement parent as well. Afterall, they would be living under the same roof, sharing meals, sharing experiences. Unfortunately, in this example, this is a big strike against naming the brother.
Considering the totality of someone’s circumstances is again paramount when deciding on a guardian.
#6 Consider how much time a person may need to be guardian?
Under Missouri law, a child becomes an adult once they turn 18. If your child is a teenager, the question of guardianship is limited to less than a handful of years. If your child or children or toddlers, then it’s a much more expansive time period where a guardian might be needed. Depending on your point of view, therefore, a good candidate with some imperfect aspects might do the trick if we’re only talking about a limited amount of time for them to serve.
On the other hand, that same candidate serving as guardian for an elementary school age child and a toddler, would be less ideal.
Here is an article with a different perspective which I found to be very good:
There’s no perfect way for a person to go about naming a guardian for their minor children. For some people, the choices are very easy. For others, this is a stressful process and one that the struggle to resolve.
Your chosen estate attorney O’Fallon can help you complete this process and hopefully assist you in getting the peace of mind that comes with creating a needed estate plan.