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

  • My mother Passed away on June 28, 2013. Since then my dad has remarried and kicked my little brother out of his home he is currectly living with my older brother, my sister in law and I. We recently tried to get him registered for school but could not and had to wait on my father who is always late with things that are not pertaining to him. He also gets my brother social security he give it to him. I do not think its fair that my lil brother should have to go over my dad's house with his new wife and get his own money or any other document. Please let me know how to obtain guardianship.
  • My mom lives in a different county than myself and my daughter,I would like my mother to take temporary guardianship of my daughter for the purpose of enrolling her in school in the county that my mother lives in.Can she do that
  • how do i find a lawyer to help get my grand kids from cps?
  • How do I go about giving guardianship or power of attorney of my son to my sister and brother in law
  • I have guardianship of my 2 nieces. Planning on moving to California how do I transfer guardianship from Arizona to California?
  • I have had legal guardianship of my grandson since birth.He is now 9 years old. What rights exactly do I have with him? what rights does the biological mother and/or father have, Even though the father is not on the birth certificate.
  • My mother, who lives in Wisconsin, has guardianship of her minor grandson. She has been his guardian for about 7 years (since the death of his father in 2007). The minor's biological mother is living, but her whereabouts has been unknown for the same time. My mother is currently receiving financial support from the state for the minor. My mother also has to re-apply each year to continue guardianship. My mother wants to relocate to Arizona with the minor. My question is: 1.can my mother leave the state of Wisconsin with the minor?
  • Community Legal in Phoenix does not provide help for guardianship, custody, or parenting time cases. I desperately need a lawyer but can't afford one. How do I find one??
  • 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 step-daughter is living in AZ with her aunt and uncle. We are trying to find out how to give them temporary custody or a temporary power of attorney for her.

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