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How to pick the right guardian for your children

On Behalf of | May 24, 2024 | Estate Planning |

One of the scariest things for any parent to contemplate is the idea that they and their co-parent could die and leave their child orphaned.

While you may not ever really make your peace with the idea that it could happen, you can take steps to secure your child’s future in your absence by nominating someone to be their legal guardian until they become adults – just in case you and your spouse die before they are grown.

While a lot of your family members may want you to (or assume you will) choose them for that role, you need to take a big step back and ask yourself the following questions:

Who is “mature enough” but not too old to raise a child?

Your parents may be lovely people, but if they’re developing health issues, starting to show signs of cognitive decline or are simply getting further and further out-of-step with the modern world, they might not be the best guardian for a child. They may have trouble adjusting to the social shifts and cultural norms among young people, which could cause your child lasting emotional harm. And, older relatives may also struggle physically with the demands of parenthood, especially if your child is still small.

By the same token, you may adore your younger brother and think he’s the best uncle a kid could have – but is he ready to give up the things a parent has to give up and take on your child’s care full-time? You don’t want to nominate a guardian whose life is still in flux or who lives a fairly carefree existence unless you’re 100% sure they want the job and can adapt.

Who will raise your child the way you want your child to be raised?

Most parents have a very clear idea of how they want their child to be raised – and the ideals can vary greatly within families. If you feel like organized religion is problematic and dangerous, do you really want your child raised by an ultra-devout sibling? If you believe in gentle parenting, do you want your child raised by your strict disciplinarian mother? 

Take a long hard look at the value systems of the people you’re considering nominating for your child’s guardian. Make sure that you genuinely hold the same broad beliefs when it comes to people, the world as a whole, politics, religion and other factors that will shape your child’s perceptions for many years to come.

Naming a guardian for your minor children is just one small aspect of estate planning – but it’s an important one. Tailored legal guidance can help you address this issue and more.

Let’s Do This Together.

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