Who Should I Name as Guardian for my Minor Children?

Naming a legal guardian is often the most important estate planning decision for people with minor children. When you become a parent, it is a good idea to have a will in place so you can name a legal guardian for your children if anything were to happen to you. Here are seven things to consider when choosing who to name as your children’s guardian. 

1. You can change your mind. 

You may feel paralyzed by the decision to name a guardian because the person you name now may not be the same person you would want to name as guardian in ten years. How are you supposed to predict the future? However, any plan is better than no plan. You can name someone now and if circumstances change, you can update your will and name someone else. 

2. Consider the age of your parents. 

Many people choose to name their parents as guardians for their minor children. However, you should consider the age and health of your parents. Will they be able to handle one or two or three children full-time? How old will they be when your children graduate from high school? At what age would your children have to go through another death of someone very close to them? 

3. Name a back-up. 

If something happens to your first-choice guardian or your first-choice declines to serve as guardian, name a back-up so you still have a say in who acts as legal guardian for your children. If no one is named, the court will decide, which can be an expensive and burdensome process. 

4. Consider the possibility of divorce. 

As high as the divorce rate is, you may want to consider the possibility that the couple you name as guardians may get divorced in the future. Would you want one of the spouses to act as sole guardian if the couple is no longer married? 

5. Consider location. 

Think about where your guardian lives. Would your children have to move states or change school districts? How would this affect your children? Some couples choose to name a close friend who lives locally instead of a relative who lives out of state. 

6. Consider the family and financial situation of your guardian. 

Does the guardian you would like to choose have kids of their own? This could be a positive, but it could also be too much of a burden if it means they will suddenly be caring for seven or eight kids. Would they be able to support your children financially? Perhaps your children would be taken care of with the assets you leave behind. You can also choose to reimburse the guardian for expenses related to caring for your children. 

7. Consider splitting up the duties. 

Do you trust one person with caring for your children and one person with the financial side of things? You can name one person to manage your assets and a different person to care for your children. This also adds an extra layer of protection to ensure your money goes to your children. 

As your estate planning attorney, I will guide you through this process and ensure you fully understand each aspect of the decisions you’re making to ensure your children are taken care of. If you have any questions about wills, powers of attorney, or other estate planning related items, please contact me.