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

  • 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 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
  • I want to get guardianship of my grandson who is 16 and living with my ex daughter in law,She is not related to him and does not want custody of him,She is separated from my son,the child belongs to my daughter who lost custody of him what do I need to do please help me
  • Have guardianship over nieces just wondering if it's ok to move out of state with them
  • COULD you please tell me the first steps in removing guardianship from the grand parents who have my son. I would appreciate this very much
  • 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
  • I have permanent guardianship of my granddaughter since 2000 she is now 13. She went for her first time out of state to see her mother for 2 weeks. When the visit was almost up she sent a message that she is not sending her back and is filing some papers and states that i can call and talk to her after thats all done. What rights does she have? How do i go about having my daughter send her back home? I researched and no papers have been filed here.can she file in that state to terminate guardianship?
  • 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.
  • Does Az require a Move Away Order from California to transfer or obtain Guardianship of my Granddaughter?I have full guardianship in CA for the last 4 years.
  • My boyfriend and I have been living together almost a year. We have had his 14 year old son at least every other weekend of the last 5 months and he moved in with us full time a month ago. While my boyfriend is taking the steps to obtain sole custody, what paperwork do we need or what steps do we need to take so I can be legally responsible for his son when he travels for work or is unreachable? We are not married or engaged, but I have the more flexible schedule and spend more time with the son (not that it really matters, I guess).

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  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .
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