The most important thing you do with your estate plan, many would argue, is to pick a guardian for your children.
After all, they’re worth more to you than anything you own. Yes, you want things to go smoothly in a financial sense. You want your assets to get passed on properly. But if you had to choose between that and giving your kids a good, stable upbringing, you would pick your kids every single time.
With that in mind, here are a few questions you need to ask as you pick a guardian:
- Does the person you choose actually have the capability to provide the type of upbringing you imagine for your child? Don’t feel like you need to pick a specific person, perhaps to avoid insulting them, if they’re not a good fit.
- Does your child already have a strong relationship with the person? If so, it can make the transition a bit less jarring.
- What is the person’s financial situation like? Will they realistically be able to care for your child and provide for them? Remember, it’s not all about desire and willingness. There are some fundamental issues to consider, and children are expensive.
- Is the person’s family similar to your own? Will your child be able to carry on with life roughly as they did when you were around? Everything will not be 100% the same, of course, but the more familiarity, the better.
- Is the person married? What is their spouse like? Do they have kids? What are those children like and what type of relationship do they have with your child?
- What are their family roles? For example, perhaps you want to leave your children with your brother. He is married with two children of his own, but his wife stays home and raises the kids while he works. You have to think of it, in some ways, as if you are leaving your kids with your brother’s wife.
- Do they have the same values as you? Will the goals that you had for your child — like going to college — be goals that they also embrace?
- Is there a true family bond? In short, does the person you pick already love your kid? You may feel a close connection with a sibling you grew up with, but what is your child’s relationship with them really like? Are they that close?
As you can imagine, picking the right person may prove difficult, and you really do want to make sure that nothing goes wrong. Keep all of your legal options in California in mind during this delicate process.