Having children adds a new and extremely important dimension to your estate planning. You must designate a responsible guardian for your children while they are minors, in case you or your partner are no longer able to care for them. Choosing the right guardian for your child is one of the hardest and most important decisions you’ll ever make. Weighing the pros and cons of each family member and friend can be overwhelming. It is best to take a step back and thoroughly consider what matters the most in a guardian.
Here are 5 things that you should consider when deciding who to name as the guardian of your young children:
- Where does the potential guardian live?
You may assume that if you were to die, the guardian you have chosen will pack up their bags and move into the children’s home. That assumption is asking a lot from that individual. More likely, your children will move in with them.
Keeping this in mind, if your children will need to move somewhere far after losing you, they might have a m ore difficult transition. Not only will they have to adjust to a new place and a new home, but they will also have to adjust to a new school, making friends, and losing nearby relatives, favorite places, and familiar neighborhoods.
Make sure that the individual of choice lives in a city you feel would be a good fit for your children to grow up in and ideally is close to where your children are growing up now.
What do you know about the potential guardian’s parenting skills?
If the potential choice is already a parent, consider their parenting skills. Are they hands on with raising their children or do they rely on outside help? Find out how they discipline, educate, and support their own family.
If the individual is not yet a parent, then consider what you know about them and how they were raised. How a person grew up tends to greatly impact the parent they will become.
Your children may have trouble adjusting if the guardian you appoint for them has drastically different rules and expectations for their children than you have for yours.
- How old and healthy is the potential guardian?
A younger guardian may be too involved in developing their own life and will not have the sufficient time to raise a family. On the other hand, a younger choice may have more energy and be more in touch with the latest parenting and education trends.
An older guardian will probably be more financially stable and have more time to be hands on with the children. However, it is possible that the children will still be minors while their new guardian starts to face aging health.
Regardless of age, ensure that they are physically and mentally able to accept the responsibility. They may be great as weekend babysitters, but having your kids permanently is a very different notion. Are they up to it?
- What’s the potential guardian’s financial situation?
Make sure you know how the potential guardian handles money, if they have a stable income, and if they have enough time to offer to your children.
It is important to know that the chosen individual can afford to raise your children the way that you would want and that they would not be overburdened with the extra time and financial expense needed.
- What’s the potential guardian’s views on education and religion?
Whether you insist on your kids being home schooled, privately educated, or publicly educated, it is important to find a guardian that is on the same page.
Consider their religious views and their values in life. It may be impossible to find a guardian that follows your exact political, religious, and overall views, but someone who has a higher amount of similarity is better than none.
If you have questions about appointing a proper guardian for your children, reach out to us today.
Our California estate planning attorneys help clients in Oxnard and the surrounding areas of Ventura County with a complete range of trust and estate services. We can help you figure out the best course of action for your estate and create a legally valid plan under California law. Call Lowthorp, Richards, McMillan, Miller & Templeman, APC today at (805) 981-8555 or contact us online for more information.