You and your spouse are young and healthy. You are busy juggling work and taking care of your children. Writing a will may be the last thing on your mind. However, all parents should prepare a will in case of an emergency.
You need to establish who will take care of your children in case of death, or incidents that leave you incapacitated. What 5 things should you consider when choosing a guardian?
- How many guardians do you appoint?There are guardians of the estate, and guardians of the person. A guardian of the estate takes care of your child’s financial needs, while a guardian of the person takes physical responsibility of your child. You can split up these responsibilities, or give them to the same person depending upon the guardian’s skill sets and desired involvement level. You may appoint more than one of each. If you have multiple children, you may appoint separate guardians for each child, or name a single guardian for all of your children.
- What are the guardian’s childcare philosophies? When you choose a guardian, evaluate your childcare philosophies, religious beliefs, priorities and hopes for your child. Find a guardian that will raise your child in a similar manner. Not only will this give you peace of mind, it will make the transition easier on your child. A guardian with a similar lifestyle and belief system will provide your child with a level of consistency during a difficult time.
- Is the guardian financially stable? You want to choose a guardian who will love you child, but they also need to be able to financially care for them. Make sure that the chosen individual can afford all of your child’s expenses: food, shelter, clothing, medical and education expenses between their own income and whatever assets you leave them.
- Is the guardian okay with raising your child? Despite the love that a person may feel for your child, they may not be ready for the responsibility of raising another person. Meet with them in person, and discuss whether they have the time and emotional resources to care for your child in the event of an emergency. Do not be offended if they tell you that they feel uncomfortable with the responsibility. Raising a child is a huge commitment, and you want to find someone who is ready to take over if need be.
- Will the court approve of your potential guardian? Before you appoint a guardian, make sure that the court will approve them as an appropriate guardian. They should not have a record of past substance abuse or legal trouble. Additionally, they will need to be of legal adult age.
If you are writing a will and establishing a guardian for your child, contact an attorney who can walk you through the process and ensure that you are protecting your child’s future.