For many people, protecting their finances and assets is a primary concern and one of the major reasons why they choose to establish an estate plan. For parents, however, there is an added component to consider when it comes to estate planning—assigning a guardian for their children. Sitting down and sorting through financial accounts and policies is one thing, but having to select an individual to raise your children in the event of your death is something else entirely. Although it is an unpleasant situation to ponder, as a parent you want to be sure your children’s future is secure. On the surface, choosing a guardian may not seem like such a difficult decision. You may even have someone in mind already who loves your children almost as much as you do. However, there are various factors that you’ll want to carefully consider before making your choice. Electing a guardian for your children is one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent, and as such, it is imperative to explore different concerns that may come up. Before jumping into these issues, it may be a good idea to create a list of potential guardians you would likely consider for this role and consider each person in light of what concerns matter most to you.
For many people, grandparents are the go-to choice when it comes to looking after their children. There is the security that they will love and care for your children just as they loved and cared for you. However, if your parents are already far along in age, it may not be realistic to expect that they will be able to raise your children into adulthood, especially if they are very young. Moreover, should your parents succumb to old age, your children would have to suffer through the loss of another caregiver.
A person’s health is not only tied to their life expectancy, but also to their ability to provide your children with proper care on a daily basis. As much as they may love your children, a person who is chronically ill, disabled, or whose health requires peace and quiet, might not be the best candidate for taking on the task of raising your children.
This is a delicate but necessary subject to consider. You may be planning to leave some of your assets to your children and some to provide for their care. However, unless you are leaving a substantial fortune, it is important ensure that a potential guardian has the financial means to raise your children. Carefully consider whether your children would make their finances unmanageable or if they would be able to handle the financial burden of raising children.
When choosing a potential guardian for your children, it is important to keep in mind that this person will not only provide for your children’s basic needs, they will also provide them with a unique view of life and the world that stems from their own. As such, you’ll want to consider how you would want your children to be raised in your absence in terms of values, education, and tradition among other factors, and choose a guardian that best fits with your standards for these concepts.
Should you choose a guardian that lives far away, keep in mind that your children would have to leave their familiar settings behind on top of having to grieve the loss of their parents. This means they would be uprooted from their home, school, and community and forced to begin anew in a completely strange environment. In considering your options for a guardian, look to those who live close by to avoid adding further disruptions to your children’s lives. Each one of these concerns must be applied to each potential guardian on your list and carefully thought over. You may not find the perfect guardian for your children who meets every single criteria, but you will find someone who comes close. A person can fall short in one area, but may present major strengths in another. The truth is no person, no matter how qualified, will be able to replace you as a parent. The important thing is to take the time and look at what matters most to you when it comes to raising your children. If you wish, you can even get in touch with a compassionate estate planning attorney. They will be able to guide you through any questions or concerns you may have about appointing a guardian and make the decision easier for you.