Parents today face many tough decisions. One of the toughest has to be, ‘Who will care for my children should I pass away or become incapacitated?’
Many parents struggle with choosing a Guardian for their minor children. And while that’s completely natural and understandable, appointing a Guardian is one of the most loving and responsible things a parent can do. Practically speaking, adding a Guardian to estate planning documents is the “easy” part; choosing a Guardian is much more difficult. My best advice is to look for a viable choice, not necessarily the perfect choice. After all, the perfect choice does not exist. You are the perfect choice! What you’re really looking for is a “runner up” so to speak.
How Do I Approach Choosing a Guardian?
Unfortunately, there is no magic answer. Choosing a Guardian is a process that requires thoughtful consideration. Being by making a broad list of possible choices. Include ALL of the people you think could be good Guardians. Do not limit yourself at this point. Consider including your siblings, parents, and other extended family members. Friends can make terrific Guardians as well.
Focus on Love
Once you’ve made your list, you might be tempted to rule out some choices on your list based on finances. Don’t! It is your job to financially plan for your children. And 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. So don’t worry so much about the person’s finances or the size of their house. And don’t eliminate a potential Guardian because you think they don’t make enough money.
Ask Yourself, ‘Does this Person Have the Capacity to Love My Children Like I Do?’
What you really want to think about at this stage of the process is whether the people on your list would genuinely love your children. You want Guardians who will treat your children as you would. When evaluating your list of names, it’s also important to consider their values and philosophies. Is it important to you that the people on your list think similarly about life, child rearing, religion, and education? Maybe yes, or maybe no. But they are important considerations, as these factors will have a direct impact on how your child or children are raised if you pass away or become incapacitated.
Would Your Kids Be a Good Fit with Your Choice?
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?
A Difficult Process But It’s Worth It
There are many important considerations when choosing Guardians for your kids. The ones I’ve discussed here are just some of the factors you should think about. It’s a difficult process to go through, but know that as you work through these questions you will ultimately arrive at the “runner up” you’re seeking. Remember to look for love first, and then address the practical factors of whether a person could manage the role. And again while this is challenging to think about, making these difficult decisions now is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child if you are no longer here to take care of them.
If you ‘d like to come in and talk about updating your existing plan or making a new one, I offer free initial consultations and am available to meet over video, by phone or in-person at my office in North Haven. Call 203-500-0201 or email Marc@AttorneyMarc.com to schedule a time to get together.