As a parent, you have to spend some time seriously considering what will happen to your children in the event that you die while they are still young. If you don’t, your children could wind up in a vulnerable position without anyone who has the legal authority to care for them.
Choosing a guardian is an incredibly important step in your estate planning process, as the individual you name will be physically responsible for your children and will likely have access to their inheritance until they become adults.
Think about who is responsible and flexible enough for the challenge
There are plenty of people in your life whom you love and who care about your children who won’t make adequate guardians in the event that something happens to you. Your parents, for example, likely dote on their grandkids, but their age could limit how much care they can provide to your children.
You need to consider whether someone will have the time, space and financial resources to take care of your children. You also need to be able to trust them with your children’s inheritance. In some cases, you may be able to earmark a portion of the money you set aside for your kids to compensate the individual who serves as their guardian. Other times, you will have to trust that they will do it out of the goodness of their hearts.
Once you have a few likely options, talk with your kids
No parent should put the responsibility for estate planning on their children’s shoulders. The conversation you have with your children shouldn’t talk about what happens if you die unless your children are old enough and mature enough to understand the importance of such a conversation.
Most times, it is best to simply ask them about their feelings about the individuals on your shortlist of candidates whom you feel could fulfill the duties necessary of a guardian. Your kids can give you an idea about the relationship they have and potentially guide you away from someone about whom they have strong negative feelings.
Talk to the top contenders to learn their feelings on the matter
Naming someone as a guardian for your children only to have them decline that responsibility after something happens to you is perhaps the worst-case scenario. In order to prevent such a tragic occurrence, you need to get people’s consent before you add their names to your estate plan as a guardian of your children.
If they consent, you must ascertain personal information from them in order to include it in the last will and ensure quick and accurate identification if it becomes necessary. Naming the right guardian can give you more peace of mind and can help protect your children if anything happens to you while they are still young.