Aside from creating a Last Will and Testament to control where their assets will go after death, many parents also draft a Last Will to name someone to care for their children should something happen to them unexpectedly.
Some parents may have already decided who is going to look after their children in their stead and it’s just a matter of formally documenting it in a Last Will and Testament.
Other times, the choice is not so easy. For instance, if you have a large family or have very little family, the process of choosing a guardian can become a little more difficult, but equally as important.
View the steps below for information on how to select a guardian for your child and why it is an important part of the estate planning process.
What is a Guardian?
Why Should Parents Choose a Guardian?
The Responsibilities of Guardianship
Determining the Criteria for a Guardian
- Do they have the personality traits you want? Are they caring, reliable, responsible, patient, and positive?
- What are their spiritual/religious beliefs?
- Do you trust this person?
- What are their educational, social/economical, or political views?
- Would they be able to commit to the task of raising your child?
- Does he/she have children? How old are they? How would your child fit into their family structure?
- Could they handle the responsibility of raising another child?
- What are their views on discipline?
- Are they physically able to care for the child? How old are they? Is their health in good order?
- Do they maintain a healthy lifestyle? Is there anything they do that would impact your child’s health (smoking, drinking, gambling, or other addictive behaviors)?
- What are their interests and hobbies?
- Would they accept your choice in appointing them as guardian?
- Where do they live? Is it nearby? Is it in a place where your child would be comfortable? Are they close to any of your relatives?
- Would your child have to change schools?
- Do they have enough space in their home for your child?
- What is their relationship status? Are they in a stable marriage? Do they have a history of relationship issues? Are they divorced or widowed?
- What is their financial situation like? Do they own a home and vehicle? Are they in debt? Are they responsible with money and budgeting?
- Does he/she have a stable job and earn a stable income? Are they home every night or are they out-of-town working?
- Does your child know and like this person?
Narrowing it Down
Resolving Family Disputes
Discussing Guardianship with the Potential Guardian
Your Finances and Estate Plans
Reviewing Your Choice
- That person no longer seems like the right fit
- That person no longer wishes to act as a guardian
- You and your spouse have more children
- That person encounters health issues or passes away
- Someone better suited to the task comes into your life