It is often difficult and stressful for people to consider their own eventual death and try to create an estate plan. Just needing to distribute your property to people can be a difficult series of decisions. If you have to worry about who will care for your children, those decisions become infinitely harder.
Picking the right guardian for your children will have an immediate impact on their safety and happiness if anything happens to you while they are still young. There are three particular factors that you should consider when trying to decide who would make the right guardian for your children.
Who falls in the appropriate age range?
A guardian needs to be old enough to legally have adult responsibilities and ideally be established enough in life to have their own income and household. However, you also want someone young enough to have the energy that caring for kids requires and who will statistically be likely to live through your children’s 18th birthday and beyond. Looking at the ages and maturity of the people in your life that you trust can quickly reduce the pool of potential candidates to a more manageable size.
Who has a positive relationship with your children?
A guardian is ideally someone who already has some kind of social or emotional connection with your kids. It will be hard for your children to trust and rely on someone they have only met once or twice while dealing with the intense grief of losing their parents. Selecting a family member who has already earned the affection and trust of your children will make the transition easier in a worst-case scenario.
Who do you trust to put your children before their own wishes?
Perhaps one of the most concerning aspects of guardianship is the financial authority that someone suddenly has over your children and their future.
Most guardians will do right by the children in their care, but some might squander inheritance or even use it for themselves and completely diminish the resources left for children before they become adults. You want to consider who is financially responsible enough to handle and inheritance and trustworthy enough to spend it on your children and not find ways to use it themselves.
Discussing your concerns and the people you trust with an estate planning attorney can help you select the right guardian candidate for your children in your last will.