No one wants to think about a situation where their minor children need a guardian, but everybody should. If you avoid the subject and the need arises later, you’ve given up the chance to do one last thing your children.
If you die or become incapacitated and don’t have a guardian appointed, the court must decide who will be the guardian of your children. And while the court will make that decision in your children’s best interests, no one knows their best interests better than you. Appointing a guardian for your minor children is one thing you can do today to ease their transition should the need arise.
Selecting a guardian for your minor children is a decision that takes some time and deep reflection. Finding one person that checks all the boxes is unlikely, so part of the decision is weighing the importance of each consideration.
Consider the bond between potential guardians and your children. Look for someone who your children feel at ease with and who has a positive relationship with them. Since the court typically prioritizes family members when appointing a guardian, having a valid guardian nomination in place is especially crucial if you want to choose a non-relative.
Look for a guardian who shares your values and principles, and who will raise your children in a way that is familiar to them. For example, if your religious beliefs are essential to you, you may prefer a guardian who will continue to raise your children in the customs of your faith.
Evaluate the potential guardian’s living situation. Ensure that the guardian can provide a secure and appropriate environment for your children. Would the guardian be willing to take on your children’s pets? What are the potential guardian’s work hours? Would they be able or willing to move into your home if you have made provisions for that?
Take into account the potential guardian’s age. A younger guardian may have the stamina to keep up with your children and all their activities, but may not be able to provide the stability you desire for your children. Conversely, older guardians, such as your parents, may have parenting experience and offer stability, but they may not be able to keep up with the physical demands of raising a young family.
Assess the potential guardian’s location. During an already difficult time, it will be easier for your children if they can stay in the same area, attend the same school, and remain close to their family and friends.
Consider the financial stability of the guardian you’ve chosen, even if you’ve included appropriate insurance in your estate plan to care for your children if you become incapacitated or die.
The guardian you choose must be willing to assume the responsibility of raising your children if something happens to you. Asking someone to be the guardian for your children is significant. It’s both a huge responsibility and a huge honor. Take the time necessary to find the right fit. And, because circumstances will change over time, be sure to regularly review the appointment.
Work with an Experienced Corning Estate Planning Attorney
At Roth Elder Law, PLLC, we help our clients with all of the important decisions required for an effective estate plan. If you’d like to work with us, Roth Elder Law, PLLC would be happy to start that conversation. Call us today to schedule an initial meeting at 607-962-6162 or complete this intake form and we’ll be in touch.