If you have minor children, one of the most important decisions you will make during estate planning is choosing a guardian for them. Without a guardian named, a family court judge would be tasked with selecting someone to raise your children. If you are in the process of estate planning, here is what you need to know about selecting a guardian for your children.
Is Naming a Guardian Necessary?
Some parents mistakenly believe that their children will be raised by their grandparents, aunts, or uncles if they die. In reality, if there is no legal document specifically naming a person as the guardian of your children, the court gets to decide.
Depending on the situation, letting the court decide could be problematic. For instance, if an absent parent who has an abusive history with the children decides he or she wants to raise the children after your death, your family could be in for a fight to gain custody.
There could even be disputes between family members over who should be the guardian. A court battle between your siblings or parents for guardianship could leave your family broken, which can be emotionally difficult for your children. In addition to dealing with the loss of a parent, your children would then be left to handle a family conflict.
What Should You Consider When Choosing a Guardian?
Choosing a guardian is more than just selecting the person your children like the most. You want to choose someone that your children like, but also someone who is responsible enough to take on the challenge of raising your children.
When selecting a guardian, make note of each candidate's child-rearing techniques, religious beliefs, temperament, and income. Ideally, you should select someone whose own beliefs closely mirror yours.
If you have more than one child, you also have to decide whether or not you want to name more than one guardian. Some parents choose to name different guardians for their children because it helps to ease the burden of taking in another child.
If you do decide to name more than one guardian, try to select people who are willing to ensure that the children maintain a relationship with each other. Guardians who live near each other would be ideal because the children could see each other on a regular basis.
There are many other considerations that should be made when selecting a guardian for your children. Consult with an attorney to learn what other factors to consider. For more information, contact a professional such as Cormac McEnery.