This is a discussion of the importance of selecting a guardian for your minor children, some considerations surrounding the selection, as well as how this fits into your complete Estate Plan.
One of the more difficult parts of Estate Planning involves naming a guardian for your children. The task of appointing someone to care for your children after you are gone can be an understandably difficult decision to make. Nonetheless, this is a decision that will be critical in the event that a tragedy occurs in which both parents die while the child is still a minor.
It is important to give careful thought to this decision because if no guardian is appointed and documented in the parent’s will, the court will make the decision of who raises the child without knowing or taking into account your preference. Just like with any other aspects of Estate Planning, it is important to have everything in writing.
When it comes to selecting the person to care for your children, it is essential to remember that the guardian does not necessarily have to be a relative. Therefore, some other factors to consider in your selection are:
- Similarity of parenting styles;
- How comfortable your children are with that person now; and
- The age and the physical and mental capability of the individual caring for and raising your children.
Location can also be a consideration if you do not want your kids uprooted from their home. Moreover, it is a good idea to not only name a guardian, but to also name an alternative in case the first person is unable to serve.
Ideally, raising the child should not be a financial burden for the guardian, and a candidate’s financial situation should not be the deciding factor. The parent will need to provide enough money—be it through savings, assets, or life insurance—to provide for the child.
Further, the person named as the guardian of your children may very well differ from the person granted your power of attorney to handle your finances. Keeping these two considerations separate can make things less complicated for all parties involved. To this point, setting up a trust for your children is also an option, allowing for you to choose how much money is given to them and what age they are to receive it. There may be specific directives to accompany these distributions if they should need access to the funds as minors.
All of these considerations are worthwhile to discuss with your Estate Planning attorney. When it comes to making such important decisions, it is advisable to take time to think about these choices and to be cognizant of the fact that amendments are also possible by working with your Estate Planning attorney to adjust the documents.
ODGERS LAW GROUP specializes in Estate Planning and can help you create a master plan that provides for the election of a guardian for your minor children and that addresses many of your other potential concerns. To learn more about estate planning or to schedule your free consultation with Mr. Odgers, contact us by e-mail, call us at (858) 869-1114, or schedule your appointment online here.