10 Items to Consider When Choosing a Guardian for your Child or Children
One of the biggest reasons my clients say that they waited to have their Last Will and Testaments drafted is because they did not know who to choose for the guardian of their children. This is not a decision to take lightly. These are your children and the thought of them being raised by someone else is heartbreaking and virtually unthinkable.
When I draft Estate Planning documents, I always assume that my client could die tomorrow. I also make certain that my clients understand that the provisions in the Estate Planning documents can always be changed in the future. Also, and this is probably an obvious statement to many, but, if you are married the only time your child will have a Guardian appointed is after the second parent dies.
Listed below are points I tell my clients to consider in choosing the proper Guardian.
- The age of the person? If your guardian is too young perhaps he or she is not at the right place in his or her life to care for a child. Or, if he or she is too elderly perhaps he or she is not physically capable of caring for a child.
- Does he or she have children already or plan on having children? Maybe he or she already has all the children they can or want to care of or he or she wants to have more children and could not be able to care for others in the future.
- Is this person married? If so, you need to consider whether you like the spouse as well. After all, your child will be living in the same home as the spouse. If he or she is not married, you need to consider whether you are comfortable with your child being raised by a single parent. There are some difficult obstacles that a single parent faces raised every day.
- What are the religious beliefs of the person? This is something to think about if it is important for you to have your child raised with the same religious beliefs as you are currently raising them.
- Is he or she a blood relative or relative by marriage? Be careful if you are considering nominating an “in-law”. You should always consider the possibility of divorce, regardless of how happy they are today.
- Does your child actually like this person? You may think he or she is the perfect person to raise your child, but if your child does not have or show the same feelings towards that person, you may be causing more harm than good.
- How drastic will your child’s daily life change? Think about whether your child will have to move (in or out of state) or change schools. This could be a difficult transition without having just lost your parents. Imagine how difficult that would be if it is due to your parents passing away.
- Does this person have pets? If your child has allergies which may be drastically affected by living in a home with a pet, that home may not be the best place for your child to live. Many people will not give up their pets that easily.
- What type of job does this person have? Think about whether that person has to travel for work or has a job that is considered dangerous. This may mean that your child may have to go to daycare (not that that is a bad thing) or potentially even be faced with loosing another loved one.
- Would you live with this person? You cannot expect your child to live with someone if you could not see yourself living with this person!
It is my job as an attorney to give the good, the bad and the ugly. These points are to provide my clients with as many possibilities to consider before making a very important decision. In order to make the best decision for your family based on what your family’s needs, beliefs and traditions are, I supply the things to consider in making that decision.