Selecting a Guardian for Your Minor ChildrenAccording 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?
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.
Contributing Attorney: Allison Kierman is an attorney at Kierman Law, PLC where she provides assistance with estate planning and business consulting.
My husband and I have had our grandson since last November. My daughter doesn't make time for her son. She is willing give legal guardianship of my grandson. What do we need to do ?
My mother lives in Phoenix and has Title 14 Guardianship of our 6 year old nephew. She wants to transfer it to us in Texas. The child's mother agrees with the plan and will give consent. I believe ARS 8-874 applies here. Where do we find the paperwork to motion for appointment of a successor and affidavit (assuming this is the correct path to take).
Is it possible to obtain legal guardianship of an unborn grandchild? The mother of the unborn child is my 16-year old daughter. The purpose of guardianship is to provide health insurance for the baby.
My younger cousin who calls me aunt has been arrested And cps has gotten involved. Although her daughter has already been living here for 6 months they say I need guardianship of the child and need it by the next day or they will have no choice but to take guardianship of her while they say she can still live with me. My question is would it be easier to get the child's mother (and legal ) to sign over guardianship or to go through the courts which is going to cost me 350$ and will take weeks to get a court date?
Although I have guardianship of my young nephew and my wife and I have established ourselves as loco parents. My sister now is in custody of him. (she established herself as a stable loving capable mother) However she has moved in a boyfriend who has established himself as "Daddy" and is now refusing to allow my wife, me nor his maternal grandmother to visit with us. Do I have any enforcible visitation rights as his guardian?
Our parents passed away two months ago and in their Will they appointed me guardian of my fourteen year old, half sister. Her grandparents don't like me and want to gain custody of her. Their son always said he never wants them to have my sister because of how he was raised. Our parent's assets are split between us so I will be able to take care of her until she comes of age to get her half. Please help. I can't get through this hard time without her with me.
My children live with my sister right now because DCS took them from me. If i sign guardianship of them over to my sister can i get my kids back at some time? Does my sister then have the authority to sign them back over to me in 6 months?
What do I need to do to get Legal Guardianship of my Niece and Nephew that DCS has in forter care? What is the law on giving kids to relatives vs foster homes?
I need to know if all petitioners on a guardianship application must appear in court. We are filing for guardianship of my almost 18 yr old son with Down Syndrome.
My children would like to stop seeing their biological father. Is this possible or at what age may they do so?
- Welcome to our Newly Redesigned Website! Let us know how we are doing! Please take a couple of minutes to fill out our survey.
- Please select your county of residence below.
State Bar of Arizona
Maricopa County Bar
Referral number 602-257-4434
Pima County Bar
Referral number 520-623-4625
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Bankruptcy Court Self Help Center
Certified Legal Document Preparer Program