How do you name a guardian for your minor children?

The thought of not being around to raise your children feels crushing and too awful to consider. But if you don’t name a guardian for your children and you pass away or become incapacitated while they are minors, a judge who doesn’t know you, your children or your family will decide who raises them. Families tend to fight over children, especially if there’s money involved. And what if you have family that you don’t want raising your children?

How to Choose a Guardian

Consider these factors when choosing candidates for guardians and back up guardians:

● How well the child and potential guardian know and enjoy each other

● Location – if the guardian lives far away, your child would have to move from a familiar school, friends, and neighborhood. If your guardian is not local, do you have someone locally that could serve temporarily?

● Parenting style, moral values, educational level, health practices, religious/spiritual beliefs

● The child’s age and the age and health of the guardian-candidates:

  1. A younger guardian, especially a sibling, may be concentrating on finishing college or starting a career.
  2. An older guardian may become ill and/or even die before the child is grown, so there would be a double loss.
  3. Grandparents may have the time, and they may or may not have the energy to keep up with a toddler or teenager.

● Emotional preparedness:

  1. Someone who is single or who doesn’t want children may resent having to care for your children.
  2. Someone with a house full of their own children may or may not want more around.

WARNING: Don’t spring this job on anyone without talking to them first. Ask your top candidates if they would be willing to serve, and name at least one back up in case the first choice becomes unable to serve.

Who’s in Charge of the Money

Raising your child should not be a financial burden for the guardian, and a candidate’s lack of finances should not be the deciding factor. You will need to provide enough money (from assets and/or life insurance) to provide for your child. Some parents also earmark funds to help the guardian buy a larger car or add onto their existing home, so there’s plenty of room for extra children.

Consider these factors when choosing who will handle the money:

● Naming a separate person to handle the money can be a good idea. This can work like a checks and balances system.

● However, having the same person raise the child and handle the money can make things simpler because the guardian would not have to ask someone else for money.

● But the best person to raise the child may not be the best person to handle the money and it may be tempting for them to use this money for their own purposes.

You Will Probably Have to Compromise

No one will ever be able to replace you perfectly. You may have to make compromises in some areas. Choose the person who you think would do the best job. Know that you can change your mind and select a different guardian anytime you’d like.

Let’s Continue this Conversation. Call us at (813) 902-3189. We are here to guide you through this process and legally document your wishes.