For parents, one of the biggest reasons they decide to create an estate plan is to ensure their child will be cared for no matter what. It isn’t easy to think about a tragedy where a child may lose both their parents before they turn 18, but parents have to plan for those kinds of “what ifs.” As part of creating their estate plan, parents also have to decide who will serve as a guardian for their child if necessary.
Sometimes, parents feel a bit overwhelmed by this decision. What is the best way to pick the right guardian? Here are five factors to keep in mind when choosing a guardian for your child:
- Is the person you choose for your child’s guardian willing to take on this role? You don’t want to name a guardian who isn’t aware of your plans or who doesn’t feel they could raise your child.
- Where does your guardian live and do they have the space to take in your child? You shouldn’t assume the person you name as guardian will simply move to where you lived and raise your child there.
- What values and religious beliefs does your potential guardian have? Will your appointed guardian raise your child in the same way you would have? If raising your child with specific values or in a certain religious tradition are really important to you, you want to choose someone who shares those values and religious beliefs, at least to a substantial degree.
- What is your potential guardian’s financial position? Will it be difficult for them to provide for your child? Would they have to take on a second job to provide for your child?
- What is your potential guardian’s age and family situation? You might want to choose someone who is older and has a stable marriage. Or you may decide to choose someone younger and who has children close to their age. You need to think about how adding a child to someone’s family will work.
Choosing the right guardian for your child is crucial. You need to keep your child’s best interests in mind. You might have to stand up to family members who disagree with your guardian choice. Ultimately, you have to feel secure in knowing you have chosen someone you know will care for your child as best they can.