What happens to your minor children if something happens to you?
As difficult as it is to think about this, it’s important to have a plan in place. Where will the children go? Who will take care of them and raise them? Without a doubt, choosing guardians is one of the most difficult decisions for parents. No parent wants to think about not being there for their children and no one can ever truly take your place.
Far too often, parents feel obligated to designate a certain family member as a guardian. However, the future and well-being of your children are far more important than anyone’s hurt feelings. Ultimately, you need to know that your children will be well cared for and raised in a manner that will honor your life and memory.
Although there is no precise formula or methodology for selecting guardians, here are a few things to consider:
1 – Personal Values
Values are one of the most essential aspects of who we are and how we live our lives. It can include our morals and how we view different things such as education, politics, religion, sports, entertainment, social structures, and much more. Think about what values are important to you and who in your life shares those same values.
2 – Geography
Another important aspect of choosing guardians for your children is geography. Selecting guardians that live out-of-state or out-of-country can be a dramatic change for your children. It will come at a time where they will already have difficulty adjusting to a huge loss. Taking them away from their friends and familiar surroundings can be traumatizing. Although a change of scenery can be helpful at times, you must weigh that against the negative impact of such a move.
3 – Adaptability
When selecting guardians, think about whether the individuals being considered can adapt to life with your children. This is especially true if you have more than one child. Do they have a lifestyle and support structure to properly care for your children? For instance, a single family member who travels for work every week might not be able to simply drop everything to be a parent to 2 young children.
4 – Desire
Last, but certainly not least, the person(s) you select should want the guardianship responsibility. No one should be surprised about being designated as a guardian. Discuss this with them ahead of time and get their approval before including their name in your estate plan.
The above are just a few factors to consider when choosing guardians for your children. Depending on your personal circumstances, there may be many more. We will help guide you in making the decision of who will be the right person to handle this responsibility.
Read our Estate Planning Guide to learn more about guardianship for a minor child.