You probably assume that if you die, your spouse will just pick up all the slack and completely dedicate themselves to your children. What happens if your spouse dies the same time that you do or suffers some debilitating medical event and can’t take care of the kids?
Life is truly unpredictable, and the only way to protect the people who depend on you is to try to plan against the worst possible situations that could arise. Naming a guardian for your children in your estate plan is so important for their futures. Without a guardian in your will, your children could be at risk of living in state facilities if something happens to you.
How do you choose the right person to serve as the guardian of your vulnerable, minor children?
Consider someone’s personality and living circumstances
The first step in selecting the right guardian for your children is looking carefully at the people in your social network. Your siblings, cousins, closest friends and other contacts could all be a resource when you plan your estate.
The people closest to you aren’t always the best candidates for guardianship. You need someone with the time to take care of your children and the responsibility to meet their needs. They also need to be trustworthy enough not to embezzle from your children’s inheritance and patient enough to handle the stress of parenting traumatized kids without adding to their trauma.
Choosing three or four people who could potentially fill this role is a good first step toward selecting a guardian.
Talk to each of your prospective candidates
Once you have a limited list of people who could take care of your children after you die, you then need to discuss that possibility with those people. Some people that you trust and love might immediately exclude themselves from consideration. They may have their own reason for not wanting the responsibilities of guardianship.
Others may agree that they could serve the role but may say things that make you think they wouldn’t be the best choice. Once you have talked to the guardianship candidates, you can choose one person to name as a guardian. You might name others as alternates in case something unforeseen able happens.
Taking the time to choose the right guardian for your children will ensure that your will properly protects the people who depend on you the most.