Comprehensive estate planning is a deeply personal process. There are so many different factors to consider, and working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help streamline the process and ensure that you explore all of the aspects of estate planning that pertain to you. One of the most difficult parts of comprehensive estate planning is selecting a guardian for your minor children if both parents should become deceased or incapacitated at the same time, leaving neither able to care for any shared children. As difficult as the process can be, it is extremely important to undertake it so that the best interests of your children are provided for in a worst-case scenario. The following are some tips in approaching the guardian selection process and provide some important considerations for you to remember when selecting a guardian, and an experienced estate planning attorney can help you with the process.
- Choose Compatible People
Most people put a great deal of planning and thought into how they choose to parent. It is important for your peace of mind as well as your children’s well-being that you select individuals that share a similar parenting style and outlook. If academics are important in your household, make sure that they are also important to prospective guardians. Additionally, making sure that individuals you are considering as guardians are ready to undertake the responsibility that comes with it is extremely important.
- Maintain Continuity in Guardians
For couples that share multiple children, it is usually a good idea to select the same guardian for each child instead of trying to select different people for each child. Remember, this is not an exercise in appeasing those close to you but is instead an important part of planning for the best interests of your children. An exception to this general rule sometimes arises with blended families that have children from different marriages where there could be some benefits to selecting different guardians depending on the various relationships your children have with each other and their potential guardians.
- Select at Least One Alternate Guardian
Life is unexpected. As much as you plan to be there for your children as long as possible, life events may not allow you to be. The same goes for the person you select as guardian. Any number of factors or circumstances could arise that could disqualify your original selection or that could make your primary selection unwilling or unable to undertake such responsibility. In such cases, nominating an alternate guardian can help avoid additional hardship for the children involved and will allow your wishes to be adhered to while avoiding potentially lengthy legal issues.
- Make Sure Your Prospective Guardians Are Financially Ready
If you are considering nominating a potential guardian for your children, you are likely aware of the costs of raising kids. Most individuals that have children or have raised them in the past are also aware of these costs. However, for those that have never been parents – and even for those that have – it is important to make sure that they understand the financial commitment that comes with parenting. Even if you can provide significant financial resources for your children if you are unable to care for them, ensuring that prospective guardians understand the financial responsibility related to parenting is extremely important.
- Make Sure to Discuss Your Selection with the Prospective Guardian(s)
Regardless of who you choose to be guardian if neither parent can care for their shared children, it is important to discuss the various factors involved with that person. While being a guardian might seem like an easy role in theory, in practice it can be much more challenging. As such, it is essential that anyone you select as guardian for your minor children is prepared to act in accordance with your wishes. Otherwise, being selected as a guardian could become an unwelcome burden or a task that certain individuals are not ready to undertake.