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Estate Planning

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September 15th, 2020

Naming a Guardian for a Minor Child in your Will

Being a parent will likely be the biggest, most important responsibility of your life.

To list all of the responsibilities you hold as a parent would take days.  There are so many joyful responsibilities that come with being a parent that the idea of having to plan for a life in which you are not a part of it causes many parents to neglect preparing their estate plans. 

Naming a guardian for your children in the event something unfortunate occurs needs to be done the day they are born, if not before. Hopefully these things will never happen, but it could be one of the most important decisions you will make for your children. If you do not name a guardian, the decision will fall to complete strangers in the legal system.  This is a  dangerous risk to take. Therefore, you should take care in naming a guardian for your child in your will. 

There are many factors for you to take into consideration when choosing a guardian. 

Age is often overlooked. For instance, if you choose your parents, there are chances of them being a bit “out of touch” especially as your child grows up, along with them encountering possible health issues as they grow older. In contrast, choosing a guardian that is too young could create instability issues as they are focused on their schooling, career, or beginning to start a family of their own. 

Location is important. More times than not, a child moves to where the guardian lives versus the guardian being able to move to where the child is. You want to consider the impact of this move, and if your child will have to face changes such as a new school or, much worse, a completely new city or state. Moving far from “home” can be difficult on a child, especially during a hard time.

The guardian’s beliefs on education, child activities, religion, and politics should be similar to yours. Additionally, they should have a similar overall parenting style to you as this will impact your children greatly. You want to take note of the guardian’s family situation and how your children would fit into the picture. Are they single? If they are married, is it a stable marriage? Do they have children?  If so, how many?  Do the children all get along? All of these will play a factor in your child being a good fit for their family situation. A final, but very important, aspect is the guardian’s financial behavior.  Now it is your responsibility as their parent to have sufficient life insurance to cover your childrens’ financial needs, but their guardian will likely manage the money until the children reach an age of majority.  If they are not good with managing their finances, it is a good idea to name a separate financial guardian who will take over this responsibility.  

As your children grow, their needs and the guardian’s life circumstances will change as well. Keep this in mind and be sure to review your guardian choice as life evolves. If the choice no longer fits, there is no harm in finding another person better suited for your current situation. 

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