How to Choose a Guardian for Your Child
No one wants to think about the possibility of leaving their child an orphan. But life is unpredictable, and although you can’t prevent the worst from happening, you can be prepared for it. Unless you name a guardian in your will, the state will choose one for you.
The best way to protect your child’s future is by naming a legal guardian in a will. Here are a few important things to consider when choosing a guardian for your child.
How to Choose a Guardian
1: Choose Someone Responsible and Financially Stable
Naming a guardian is a very important decision, so you shouldn’t just choose the first person who comes to mind. This may seem like a no-brainer, but choosing someone who can be a responsible guardian is just as important as choosing someone who gets along well with your child.
Make sure to choose someone who is financially responsible and can make important decisions about their care. If you choose someone who already has kids of their own, it’s important to make sure they have the resources to take on another child.
2: Consider Their Long-Term Ability to Care for Your Child
Many people’s first choice for their child’s guardians is their own parents. But as you likely already know, children are very active. Your parents may have done an excellent job raising you, but they might not have enough energy to raise another child.
Plus, if your child has special needs, an older guardian may not be able to continuously provide the attentive care needed. If possible, it’s best to choose someone who is closer to your age and who is physically capable of providing long term care.
3: Think About Location
To protect your child’s well-being, you also need to consider where their potential guardian currently lives. They should live in a safe neighborhood and in a good school district to ensure your child grows up in a great environment.
It’s also best to choose someone who lives relatively nearby, or at least in the same state, to avoid having to uproot your child’s life. If the guardian is willing to move into your home, you can place the house in a trust to make the transition easier.
4: Ask Your Guardian First
Make sure to ask permission before assigning someone as guardian of your child—no one should be blindsided by the responsibility. Speaking with the person ahead of time can also help you confirm you’re making the right choice, or allow you to change your mind. When discussing guardianship, find out if you have similar religious and moral beliefs about raising children, to ensure that you’re making the right choice.
5: Select Several Alternates
When considering guardians, it’s essential that you choose more than one person to secure your child’s future. Your top choice could become disabled, pass away before you, or decline the role for any reason. If you don’t have a backup, the court would then appoint whoever they see as fit.
6: Name the Guardian in Your Will
Don’t forget to include your choice of guardian (and alternate guardians) in your will. To cover all your bases, it’s also a good idea to add that the guardian will care for any of your future children as well. You should update your will as soon as your family grows, but this clause will protect your children if you pass away suddenly.
It’s also important to include detailed instructions about how the guardian should raise your children. While a guardian isn’t legally required to follow these instructions, you can at least make your wishes clear. As long as you make a trustworthy choice, your children’s guardian should honor your wishes.
Wills and Trusts in the Phoenix Area
If you need to draft or update your will, or would like to set up a living trust for your children, contact the Phelps LaClair team. We can help you create a successful estate plan that will give you peace of mind about their future. Give us a call at 480-892-2488 to schedule a consultation at one of our many locations in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area.
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (5/10/2023). Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash