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.
I now live in Arizona I had full guardianship of my grandson in Michigan, We moved here with his mother,she now has moved out, been her for 8 months, how do I go about getting legal guardianship here, The mother is a drug addict ,supposedly not using,but do believe she does,without it showing, she wants guardianship back. Father lives in Ohio ,he hasn't had contact in two years,.
i have a son and a daughter and i would like my fiance to be their permanent guardian, when we get married does he automatically become their guardian?
My parents have agreed to give up guardian ship. Whats the fastes way to have my aunt at least have some legal control over my life. WITHOUT court
im 17 years old and a few weeks ago my mother kicked me out. i had one of my friends there to witness, and her mom. now my mom is wanting me to go back, but do i have the legal right not to? its a very unstabkle home, ive been forced to live with her since my father died but now i cant take it anymore. our fights scare me and often have gotten physical since i was 14. Do i have any rights here? im not neccisarily looking into emancipation but id like to have gaurdianship switched to someone i trust.
I want to enroll my little sisters in school, our mother is in Mexico but they won't let me enroll them. My sisters are u.s. citizens my mother is not. She gave me a power of attorney letter giving me right to take care of them. It was notorized in Mexico but they still won't let me enroll them. What do I need?
do i need the permission of both parents to obtain guardianship? what if i cant find one of the parents but the other gives consent?
My daughter is being evaluated in preparation for a competency hearing. Her French husband filed for divorce three weeks ago. If she is declared incompetent, can the divorce proceed?
I am a single mother of 6 children. 4 of them belong to my first husband and the baby belongs to my last husband but the next to youngest does not have any contact with her father. He does not want to have anything to do with her. I have joint legel custody of all of the other children and would like to know what my mother can do to retain that custody or have legal visitation for herself should something happen to me, and become the legal guardian of my next to youngest child since she will have no one else to turn to?
Our daughter is planning to enlist in the Navy and need to know what we as the grandparents need to do to get custody of our 9 month old grandson while she is gone.My daughter is in agreement of this but need to know what we need to do legally.She will be gone at least five years. Also what is the time frame this will take to get legal custody?
my boyfriends mother has had gaurdianship of our daughter for about two years. what are our rights as her parents??? also she wont even lets us be alone with her??? my fiencee and i are well established with jobs and a nice apartment. what can we do??? please help!!! thank you
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