As a parent, you likely worry about all the little details: what your child eats, wears, and how much sleep they get. You might also worry about life’s big “what if’s” – like what would happen if you were in an accident, or worse, if you and your spouse passed away.
While it may seem morbid to think about death when you’re in the prime of your life, it can be empowering. Knowing that you have a plan for everything, no matter what, goes a long way toward reducing the stressors parents face. With an estate plan, you can find solutions for all of those scary “what if’s,” so that you can focus on what really matters – spending time with and enjoying your children.
This week, I’d like to kickstart some thought about naming guardians for your minor children and provide some tips to help you make the right choice.
Tips for Choosing the Best Guardian for Your Children
Every family is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to naming guardians. The best way to reach a choice that works for you and your spouse is by starting an open dialogue.
Here are some of my personal recommendations to consider when thinking about potential guardians:
Elderly individuals (like your parents) may not be the most practical choice. Consider their physical health and financial status before jumping to the conclusion that they should be your children’s guardians.
Always name a back-up. Life is unpredictable and the last thing most parents want is a lengthy court-proceeding over guardianship. By naming a back-up you can ensure your children will be cared for by the people you choose (not a judge).
The people you pick as guardians do not have to be the same people who manage your children’s finances. If you will be leaving assets behind to care for your children, you may have others in mind to manage the assets. There is no rule that a child’s guardians must also manage the child’s financial assets.
Consider temporary guardians if your permanent guardians live far away. If you and your spouse were in a car accident today, who would need to pick your children up from school? Who would watch them if you were both hospitalized? A close, reliable caretaker could be a good choice as a short-term guardian even if they are not in a position to care for your children permanently.
Remember that you can change your mind if circumstances change. Your guardianship appointment is not set in stone (unless you are incapacitated or pass away). You can change your mind at any time – and that’s okay!
I’m Here to Help
It can be distressing to ponder our own mortality, but, as a parent, I think it’s even scarier to contemplate what would happen to my children if something happened to me. In most states, if parents pass away without an estate plan, the court will decide who will raise their surviving children. Unfortunately, courts do not know your personal wishes and desires for your children – and there is a good chance they will not make the same choice you would.
I know choosing a guardian can be difficult, but I am here to help make it easier. Schedule a FREE Virtual Strategy Session with my office to learn how you can protect your family and preserve your legacy.