Choosing the best guardian for your child is easier than you’d think

If you are thinking about who would be the best, ideal person to serve as guardian for your child, stop. Please know that there is nobody with parenting skills like you; you know your child better than anyone! No matter how wealthy your cousin is, or how educated your sister is, there will never be another parent like you. It therefore can become difficult to settle on the best guardian for your child following your demise. Or is it?

Choosing the best guardian is a matter of finding someone -- with their permission of course -- who shares similar values and family goals as you. Click To Tweet

Imagine your child, still grieving over your loss, being faced with unknown environments, new normals, and an overall unfamiliar way of life. How fair would that be? By choosing the best guardian for your child while you are still able to do so, you can provide your child with the closest lifestyle with which he or she is familiar. If you don’t make the decision now, you run the risk of your children being under the care of an individual appointed through the court system if you face an early end. Make the best selection now, before a judge makes the choice for you. Here’s how:

Write your will, have your way

Before you draft your will, please consider making a list of your “must-haves” when it comes to the guardianship of your child. Does the person you have in mind share your values? Are there any pending legal battles he or she needs to address? Are they legally allowed to care for children? In most states, anyone convicted of statutory rape (let’s say he or she dated an underage teen years ago and the teen’s parents called the police) is not allow anywhere near children!

Would the person you have in mind as a guardian be committed to a daily routine such as yours? Let’s say you are comfortable in a 9-to-5 schedule, Monday through Friday. Does your desired guardian match this lifestyle? Or are they often on the go, working for weeks at a time in various cities? Speaking of employment preferences, does your guardian-to-be have gainful employment, with medical benefits and other important needs for adults with children? Financial stability, I’m sure, is a must for most parents looking for a guardian to step in when the need arises. Even if the potential guardian loves your child and agrees to be the best caretaker for your child, if he or she could barely afford to take care of themselves, they could not possibly take care of another person through their 18th birthday, and you certainly wouldn’t want them living off of the assets left for the benefit of your children! Consider these questions carefully.

Choose two: manager of the estate and guardian of the person

A manager of the estate (conservator, guardian or trustee, depending on the situation) is responsible for the finances held by a child. This could include assets willed to your son or daughter, money earned in a business or another venture, or an inheritance. A guardian of the person, on the other hand, serves as a substitute for you in your absence. When you are no longer able to care for your child, or if you succumb to an untimely death, a guardian of the person will step in to take over your parental duties.

It is also recommended that you identify at least two individuals (an primary and contingent fiduciary) to list as potential fiduciaries. This is important because if one became unable to uphold their chosen tasks the child will be without any protection until the courts intervene. Additionally, not everyone is financially responsible. No matter how, generally speaking, great a person he or she might be, you don’t want to give financial duties to just anyone. For this reason you might want to elect a money-savvy person who has proven their trustworthiness. Having a back up fiduciary could the door of accountability to ensure that the assets and decisions are being handled correctly.

Choosing a guardian — or two, as described above — is one of the most critical decisions you will make in your life. The selection of the best guardian for your child is also likely the toughest discussion you’ll ever have. For this reason, it is best to seek the assistance of an attorney as the legal ramifications of guardianship could mean the difference between having the best guardian and the worst one. Our office is fully prepared to answer any questions you may have, and we want to help you make the right decision, before a judge makes it for you.

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