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Guidelines for choosing a guardian for your children

Parents seem invincible to their children, but, as adults, we know better. Car accidents happen. Unforeseeable tragedy strikes without warning. Parents have a responsibility to protect their children from the dangers of the world. This duty does not end with your death. It is your job to make safe your child’s future by naming a guardian in your will. Taking this simple step with your estate plan will ensure your child is cared for in a manner approve of.

As difficult as it will be, you need to sit down with your partner, if you have one, and determine who you trust to care for your child in the event of your deaths. It may seem morbid, but it is a labor of love.

Here is what to consider in your discussion:

  • Choose one person. Divorce is so common today that you can’t rely on two people being together for an indefinite period. Instead, select an individual with the provision that their chosen partner will supplement your child’s care.
  • Choose someone age-appropriate. The individual you choose should be able to raise your child now if tragedy strikes tomorrow. Do not select someone too young or too advanced in age.
  • Choose someone you trust. As a parent, you have thought deeply about how you are going to raise this child. Communicate important values and maybe even goals so that the guardian understands how to bring up your child.
  • Choose someone stable. The guardian you choose needs to be able to care for your child long-term; therefore, it is best to select someone with the resources and energy to be there for your child throughout the years.
  • Choose someone who wants the job. Willingness is essential as being a guardian is such a tremendous responsibility. Get permission before naming anyone in your will.

Hopefully, your chosen guardian will never be necessary, as you will live a long and happy life. Think of it as a “just in case” provision. Remember that it is better to have an unnecessary plan than to leave your family and friends to try to sort things with the court when you are gone.