Who will take care of my children?
This is a very serious question that parents, especially young parents, need to consider. If you have a minor child, you need to name a guardian, someone who will care for your child, should both parents die prior to that child becoming an adult. If both parents pass away without naming a guardian, the care of minor children will be left to the courts. While it is the court’s job to ensure your children are placed with a proper caregiver, you do not want to leave that decision to a stranger without letting them know your preferences.
The act of naming a guardian is no small matter, and there are many aspects that can be easy to overlook. Here is a list of important questions you should answer in order to make the best, most objective decision for you and your family.
What is the age of the guardian?
A lot of young people tend to think of their parents as the first choice for guardians, and in some cases this is a perfectly viable option. The average age for the majority of first time grandparents in the United States is 50 years old, however, and older adults may not have the time, energy, health, or resources to raise small children.
If you consider naming your parents (or any middle-aged-or-older adult) as a guardian, talk with them and make sure they’re physically, mentally, and emotionally able to take on the responsibility.
Does your chosen guardian have children?
If your chosen guardian already has a large family, would they realistically be able to take on more responsibility? At the same time, if they don’t have children, will they be ready to take on the role as a parent? These questions are especially important to consider if any of your children have special needs.
Does your chosen guardian share your religious values?
Are you devout in your faith? If so, what are the religious views of your potential guardian? Even if they don’t share the same beliefs, are they willing to make sure your children receive the religious education you want for them?
The same applies for parents who are non-religious. Are you comfortable with your children being raised in a religious household?
What is the guardian’s financial situation?
There are two questions to answer when it comes to your potential guardian’s finances:
1: Is this person financially stable?
2: Can this person take on the additional financial burden of a child?
It’s no secret that raising children is expensive, and your potential guardian will have to factor in a list of extra costs to their budget. You want to know that your children are going to a stable household.
Is the guardian willing?
You should have a serious discussion with your potential guardian to ensure they are fully willing to take on the responsibility of caring for your children. If they don’t already have children of their own, then it’s equally important that they completely understand what is being asked of them.
Does the guardian have a relationship with your children?
This will be an emotional and difficult time for your children, and they need to feel safe and comfortable with your chosen guardian. At the same time, having an established relationship will benefit your guardian during the transition.
Where is the guardian located?
Would your children have to move? If so, how far away? You should seriously consider the location of your potential guardian in relation to your children’s school, friends, and extended family.
Do you have more than one option?
What if something happens to your first choice? Don’t just name one potential guardian. Ideally, you should consider at least 2 to 3.
Bonus Tip: Re-assess every 5 years.
From living situations to financial stability, everything touched on in this article is subject to change for you, your children, and your potential guardians. Rather than planning for the long term, consider the best option for the next 5 years, and then reassess after that time. You may find that you need to make a change.
If you’d like to learn more naming a guardian, drafting a Will or Power of Attorney, contact the lawyers at Stanko, Senter & Mitchell today.