For parents, there's nothing more important in an estate plan than choosing a guardian for their minor children.
Naturally, you hope to live long enough to raise your own children. If an accident should happen, however, that claims your life and the life of your child's other parent, you need to be prepared. That means choosing a guardian for your children with care.
Here are some steps to take as you make this decision:
1. Start with a list of potential guardians.
If you only have one or two children, you may have a fairly long list of people willing to take your children into their home and raise them. If you have a large family, however, your list may get considerably shorter -- especially if you hope to keep your children together.
Start with a list of everyone you believe will be able and willing to care for your children if necessary. Consider each person's age, the stability of their lifestyles and their relationship with your children as you make your list.
2. Begin to narrow your list.
You can start to exclude people from your list based on whatever you deem most important. For many people, the following things are the most important considerations:
- Religion - A shared religious viewpoint may be very important (or not at all).
- Personal values - What type of principles and beliefs does each person demonstrate in their own lives? Do you want to see those transmitted to your children?
- Location - Does the potential guardian live in an area that will offer your children plenty of advantages, including social support from other relatives? Is that important?
- Personality - Does the potential guardian have the right temperament to raise your children? Do they generally demonstrate affection well? Are they kind?
Another thing to consider is whether or not the potential guardian is already a parent. If so, is his or her parenting style similar to your own?
3. Talk to your chosen guardian.
You absolutely don't want to name a guardian until you speak with your choice. Make sure that this person is willing to serve in that capacity.
For more help addressing other estate planning issues, please visit our site or talk to our office. We can help you craft an estate plan that is tailored to your unique situation.