Appointing a Guardian for Your Children

Selecting a guardian for your children is an extremely personal and important decision. While you certainly want to choose a trustworthy individual, you also need to choose someone who understands the serious commitment involved in guardianship.

A Look at the Issues

If a potential guardian does not have children already, suddenly having children may require a significant change in lifestyle. On the other hand, those who do have children will need to integrate your children into their family. Regardless of the guardian, it is difficult to know how well children will adjust to their new family. Suppose the guardian is a friend rather than a relative. Will your family members make the situation difficult by second-guessing the decisions of the guardian?

Assuming guardianship of someone else’s children is also a major financial responsibility. Too often, the respective parties avoid addressing some important financial issues, such as the following:

  • Will the guardian be willing and able to assume full financial responsibility for raising your children? Will the guardian require financial provisions to be made in your will? For instance, will you designate the guardian as the beneficiary of your life insurance policies should both you and your spouse die?

  • Is there sufficient life insurance to help pay for the cost of raising your children, including higher education expenses?

  • If assets are to be placed in trust for the benefit of your children, how will the trust be administered? Will the guardian have a role in controlling the trust assets?

Finalizing a Commitment

Even if you have chosen a guardian, your decision is not binding until a court formally appoints the guardian. Generally, a court will not force unwilling people to serve as guardians, even if they have previously agreed and were named as guardians in the deceased parents’ will.

When selecting a guardian, be sure to discuss these important issues. Everyone can benefit from an open and honest airing of expectations. You may feel assured, knowing a caring individual will raise your children in a loving, supportive environment. The guardian may better understand the financial responsibility he or she is being asked to assume. And, most importantly, your children can be cared for by prepared and willing guardians.

 

 

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