Guardianship of Minor Article


Selecting a Guardian for Your Minor Children

According to a recent survey, only 36% of U.S. parents with minor children have a will. This means that 64% of children do not have a legal guardian selected for them by their parents in the event of the unexpected. Instead, these children will be the subject of guardianship proceedings by the state court system and social services department. In the same way that parents aim to protect their children during life, parents should act to avoid such circumstances and instead ensure their children are well taken care of in the event something where to happen to them.

Choosing a guardian can be overwhelming. Many couples have not finalized their will and estate plans simply because they cannot agree on a guardian. Parents should not delay for this reason. Parents should think about what qualities are most important to them in a possible future caretaker for their children. Consider the following questions:
  • Who will love your children in your absence?
  • Who will afford your children a safe, stable environment?
  • Are there social or religious qualities that are important to you?
  • Where do you want your children to live and be raised?
  • Who has qualities you respect and admire and would want passed on to your children?
  • Would a family member or close friend be a better caretaker?
  • Who would honor your memory?
Parents struggling with the issue of guardianship should answer these and other questions that are important to them and have a serious, rational conversation and come to an agreement on guardianship. Failing to reach an agreement on guardianship is tantamount to allowing a judge and social worker unknown to you and your children to decide guardianship.
Importantly, parents should identify 2 or 3 possible guardians, to ensure a back-up plan in the event one or more guardians are unable or unwilling to act as guardian. After you’ve agreed on a list of possible guardians, schedule a time to talk to each person about the issue of guardianship. Tell them: “We are meeting with our attorney to work on our estate plans and would like to talk to you about a few issues that are important to us.”

When you’re ready to have that conversation, here are some issues you should cover:
  • The ask: “We’ve thought a lot about the type of person/family we’d like to help raise our children in the event we were to pass away unexpectedly. We would be honored if you would consider acting as guardian of our children.” Let them know if there are family, religious, emotional, social, or other reasons that were important to you in selecting them as a possible guardian. You can also let them know if there are qualities or beliefs you hope they pass on to your children.
  • The arrangements you’ve made: “We’re meeting with our estate planning attorney to finalize ours wills/trust. We intend to make sure you are provided with the necessary finances to care for our children.” You may want to mention if you’ve purchase life insurance or have set up trusts to assist them financially. You can also discuss if you will allow them the choice to live in your home while they are raising your children.
  • Give them time: “We know this is a big responsibility. Please think about it and let us know if you will act as guardian.” Tell them when your next meeting with your attorney is and ask that they get back to you by then.
Choosing a guardian for your children is an enormous responsibility and should be taken seriously. But the importance of the decision should not be a reason to delay providing for your children.

Contributing Attorney: Allison Kierman is an attorney at Kierman Law, PLC where she provides assistance with estate planning and business consulting.

Comments:

QUESTIONS

  • Okay, so I'm 24years old currently seeking custody or guardianship of my little sisters. Our mom passed in 2011 and since then i have been trying to get custody of them. It has been difficult to get help with the forms. So i was wondering what I would need or who i should talk to
  • How do I obtain Guardianship of my minor cousins when mother and grandparents are deceased and fathers are not known. I live in Phoenix arizona and they reside in San Diego California?
  • I am 19 years of age and I have a girlfriend that lives currently in mesa arizona. Although she has a guardian, can I pick her up and bring her back with me to live with me in greensboro north carolina if she leaves a note willingly at her assisted living home stating that she left with me by her own choice?
  • I have had my grandson since March 28,2007 right when my daughter got out of the hospital from having him. I have papers wrote up by her signed by her and myself saying he lives with me it is notarized as well. He is on my insurance i do all his school paperwork. She picked him up for a visit he didn't want to go but she told him if he don't she will have the cop's put me in jail!!! Now she is refusing to give him back to me!!! Is there anything i can do to bring him home right now!!!!
  • im 14 ive been living with my grandma for 6 months. My mom does drugs and my little sister and little brother live with her and her new husband(does and sells drugs). i moved out on my own. my sister doesnt want to. now my mom is saying that she has ALL athority over me. Does she? is she still my legal gardian?
  • Ive had Guardianship for the past 13 year the mother is decreased father unknown. are you able to apply for cash asstiance for the child to help with clothes etc. child still aware to the state /courts.
  • i need help trying to get started on taking guardianship of my girlfriend. shes living with me and another family i just recently got an apartment i wanted her to move in with me but shes 17 and can't be on the lease. what can i do to try and get temporary guardianship until she turns 18 in july
  • my daughter is somewhere in phoenix and I dont know where I live in showlow and I have her daughter,my granddaughter with me i need to get temporary guardianship of her for medical coverage to update her shots and my daughter already had two children taken by CPS where do I find the paperwork to fill out?
  • My mother passed away about 3 years ago. When she did, my father gave my brother a verbal guardianship. They never had the papers filled out or anything, and now I have to fill out things like FAFSA and my college that I plan to attend requires proof of legal guardianship. My dad lives in a different state. Is there a way around this?
  • MY BOYFRIEND OF 4 YEARS LEFT HIS 4 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER WITH ME WHILE HE WENT OUT OF STATE. I WANT TO GET HER ENROLLED IN SCHOOL AND ALSO GET HER INSURANCE AND I CANT DO ALL OF THAT WITH HIM BEING GONE. WHAT ALL DO I NEED TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT. I WANT TO ENROLL HER IN SCHOOL, TAKE HER TO DOCTORS AND DENTISTS APPT AND EVERYTHING ELSE A MOTHER SHOULD DO. ?

STORIES

  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .
  • I just helped my mother, age 89, deal with her Medicare HMO. . .
  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .

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