No parent wants to think about it, but it’s something that needs to be arranged… Who will care for my child if (God forbid) something happened to me? As heartbreaking as it is to imagine your kids alone in the world, it could happen to anyone at any time. It’s best to be prepared.
If you have yet to appoint a legal guardian for your children in the event of your death, ParentDish assures you that you are not alone. Some parents have just not thought about it, some have some vague idea of who they’d prefer (or maybe a strong opinion on who they would not prefer) but many have not made it legal.
Actually, making it legal is the easy part. Get a lawyer to draw up the necessary papers and that’s it (this can be done when drawing up your will). You should name one personal guardian (and one alternate, in case your first choice can’t serve) for each of your children.
The hard part is choosing who to name as legal guardian. It’s a huge decision in which many factors come in to play.
- Your parents: This might be an obvious choice for many parents; after all, who loves your kids almost as much as you? They might be willing and able, but depending on their age, that could spell even more upheaval and distress for your children should they pass away before the kids reach maturity.
- Family size: Your cousin might be a wonderful, loving parent, but with 5 kids of her own, is she willing to make room in her family for yours?
- Location: In case of a tragedy, uprooting your kids from their familiar neighborhood, school, and friends may add to the trauma. This is a consideration when choosing someone who lives nearby, or in another state or country.
- Money matters: Can you provide enough assets to raise the children? If not, can your chosen guardian afford to bring them up?
- Religion: Does the guardian share your moral and/or religious beliefs?
Some parents name one person to be the children’s personal guardian and a different person to look after financial matters, explains Nolo.com. Often this is because the person who would be the best surrogate parent would not be the best person to handle the money. For example, you might feel that your brother-in-law would provide the most stable, loving home for your kids, your close friend would be better at dealing with the economic aspects of bringing them up. Provided that your brother-in-law and your friend agree and you trust them to get along in the best interest of your children, you can name one as personal guardian and the other as custodian or trustee to manage your children’s inheritance.
Nobody wants to plan for their own death, but as parents we have a responsibility to our children to do so. Have you done it?
Having trouble with the decision? See: Naming a Guardian for Your Child: Problems and Solutions