Are your children under the age of eighteen? When you plan your estate, choosing a guardian for your minor children is one of the hardest and most important aspects. Here are four qualities to consider when you pick a guardian.
The guardian or guardians you choose should be responsible and over the age of eighteen. When you are choosing among loved ones for the honor of raising your children, it may be easy to let emotions make the decisions for you. Avoid picking a favorite family member if you do not think they will be responsible enough for the job.
A guardian must be physically able to raise your children. It may not be wise to choose your sister who already has four children of her own, or your uncle who is bed-ridden. Consider how your children will fit into the life of your guardian. When you choose older relatives as guardians, consider their age and health. It would be unfortunate for your children to go through a change to another guardian in the event of the first guardian’s death.
When you choose a guardian you may have to decide between several family members. This can sometimes cause hurt feelings. During your estate planning you should speak with all family members about your guardian choice. You may also want to leave a letter explaining why you chose a particular person. Guardians must keep your children’s interest first while still maintaining contact with all family members for the benefit of the children.
When you choose a guardian, if you have more than one possible choice, you may wish to focus on who would raise your children with a similar parenting philosophy and moral beliefs to your own. If this is not possible, you should focus on who would be the best parent even if they do not share all of the same parenting ideals you do. You can always speak with your guardian choice about your wishes for your children’s care and upbringing.
Armstrong, Fisch & Tutoli is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.