As parents of young children, it makes sense to create a contingency plan in the case of your illness, injury or death. When you’re working on your estate plan, you can set up a guardianship for your children, so someone will always be there to care for them.
A guardianship is a legal relationship where a court appoints a person to make decisions on the behalf of another person who doesn’t have the legal capacity to do so. For example, a child under the age of 18 would not be legally old enough to make most decisions.
A guardian can help manage your children’s personal affairs, assets, finances and more.
Who should you select as a guardian for your children?
Who you choose to be the guardian of your children will vary based on a number of factors. For example, if you and your spouse pass away, you may prefer that your sister takes care of your children. You might decide that it’s better if your parents take on the role of the caregiver to your children, since they’re familiar with them as grandpa and grandma.
Every family is different, so who you select may vary. However, some good tips for selecting a guardian include:
- Choosing a guardian who is likely to have the financial means to care for your children
- Selecting a guardian with similar moral values
- Finding a guardian whom your children are familiar with and enjoy being around
- Selecting someone who would like to take on the responsibility of caring for your children should the need arise
The guardian’s exact role can vary depending on your children’s ages and other influencing factors, but it’s worth looking into selecting someone who you’d be happy to have make all serious decisions about your children’s care, just like you would if you were there.
Remember that you can select more than one guardian, too. If you have one child who loves your mom and dad and another who would be more comfortable with your spouse’s parents, for example, you could opt to split them into two homes. It’s up to you to decide what would work best if you could not be there to support them at that time.