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Designating a legal guardian for your child

On Behalf of | Jul 22, 2022 | Estate Planning

You’re ready to choose a designated legal guardian for your child who would raise them if you and your spouse or co-parent are no longer around. This is typically designated in your will or living trust. While the odds of both of you perishing together are relatively slim, it happens – due to car crashes, catastrophic weather events, mass shootings and more.

Family isn’t always the best choice. Your parents may not be physically or emotionally capable of raising another child at this point in their lives. Your siblings may not have jobs or lives conducive to raising kids. If they live far away, do you want your child to have to move?

Why you need to codify your wishes

Even if you decide you want a relative to care for your child, it’s still wise to codify that choice. Otherwise, the court will decide, and it might not choose the relative you’d prefer. Further, you could have family from both sides battling it out in court.

As you consider your options, what kind of things should you look at? It depends in part on what’s important to you. There are advantages to choosing one person instead of two, even if they’re married, so there are fewer complications if there’s a divorce. That’s something to factor into your decision. Here are some other things.

Do their beliefs align with yours?

Besides age and location, it’s important to consider values. You want a guardian with beliefs and values similar to your own. Maybe you want your child raised in your religious faith. Most parents also want someone who shares their beliefs about education, money and the world.

How would your child fit into the family?

Do your top choices have kids your child’s age? Do they have a relatively happy, stable home? Can they afford another child? The money you can leave for them may not cover years of care.

Do they want to do it?

Be sure to ask before you designate someone. Give them time to think about it. It’s a big commitment. You should also designate an alternate guardian – again, only with that person’s permission.

The choice of a guardian for your child may change over the years for a host of reasons. You can always revise your estate plan accordingly. However, it’s important to have experienced legal guidance as you make and implement this decision.