Parents today face many tough questions. One of the toughest questions is, “Who will care for my children should I pass away or become incapacitated?” This is a complicated issue that many people struggle with. Even though it is a tough thing to ponder, parents should nominate a Guardian for their minor children in their estate planning documents. Adding a Guardian is the “easy” part; choosing a Guardian is a more difficult matter. My best advice is to look for a viable choice, not necessarily the perfect choice. The perfect choice does not exist. You are the perfect choice, and you are really looking for a “runner up.”
How should you approach choosing a Guardian? There is no magic answer. It is a process. Start with an extensive list of possible choices. Make a list of ALL the people you think could be good Guardians. Do not limit yourself. Think about siblings, parents, and other extended family members. Friends can make terrific Guardians as well.
When choosing a Guardian, I recommend that parents focus on love. Parents should consider if the people on your list could genuinely love your children. Ask yourself, do these people have the capacity to love my children like I do? You want the Guardians to treat your children as you would. Consider their values and philosophies. The people on your list will share your values and philosophies on life, child rearing, religion, and education.
Many parents are overly concerned with the financial situation of potential Guardians. My advice is simple: do not worry too much about the finances or the size of someone’s house. Do not eliminate a person because you think they do not have a high enough net worth. It is your job to financially plan for your children. You can provide funds for your children through proper estate planning. Many parents utilize life insurance to create an instant estate to care for the family that they leave behind.
Next, consider some of the practical factors associated with Guardianship. How would raising your children fit into the Guardian’s lifestyle? Do they have the necessary health and stamina to raise your kids? Do the potential Guardians have other children? If so, do they have a good relationship with your children?
There are many important considerations when choosing Guardians. Look for love first and then address the practical factors of whether a person could manage the job of a lifetime.
If you have estate planning questions that you would like answered in this column, email me at Marc@attorneymarc.com. If you ‘d like to come in and talk about updating your existing plan or making a new one, I offer free initial consultation. Virtual, phone and in person consultations are available. Call me at 203-500-0201 to schedule an appointment.