How do I pick a guardian for my child?

Answer: It’s hard to imagine someone else raising your children, but if something were to happen to you and your partner, you’d want to be sure they are in good hands. That’s why you should nominate legal guardians — for their sakes and for your own peace of mind. Failing to pick a guardian means the courts will choose one for you — and it may not be the person you think is best.

You’ll want someone who will care for your child and someone who’s responsible, at work and at home, and when it comes to finances. You should also pick alternates in case your first choice is unable to serve as a guardian.

Here’s a few things you should consider when choosing a guardian:

Couples vs. Singles. Many parents tend to gravitate toward a married couple when they pick a guardian for their child. Divorce happens to the best of couples, so you may want to pick one person instead. Or decide ahead of time which person would raise your child in case the couple splits up. Also think about the couple’s children: Will your child fit into the family, or get lost in the shuffle?

Values. Do you want your child to be raised in a certain religion? Then faith may be important when it comes time to pick a guardian. You might also want to take into account your potential guardian’s morals, educational views, and parenting style.

Finances. Does your potential guardian own a home, have a good job, or work in a field that requires lots of travel? How well do they get along with your parents, in-laws, or other relatives?

Location. Think about where your potential guardian lives and whether a move to another city or state would turn your little one’s world upside down. It may seem horribly disruptive for your child to be uprooted from everything he/she knows. Perhaps the best person for the job lives elsewhere, then it’ll probably work out fine. Besides, most kids are resilient when it comes to this kind of change.

Age and Health. Before you nominate your parents, consider their age and health. Will they been too old to run around after your toddler; will they be able to handle the demands of a teen? Keep in mind you can designate a guardian for a specific length of time (until your child turns 12, for instance) and designate another until the child turns 18.

For more information on Estate Planning or to take advantage of our complimentary review of an existing estate plan, please contact us. We are here to help. 

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