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

  • I am the legal guardian of a 6 year old child,i need to know how i go about to become his permanent guardian?
  • My daughter is 12 she ws 11 wen her dad passed away he is on BC we were not married, he has proprty tat ws sold I hv to initiate conservationship on her behalf to set up trust, do I hv to apply to be approve or am I'm automatically approved becuz I'm her mother? I cant afford a high price lawyer is there free legal asst tat can assist me in this process?
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • Hello my son is 3 years old. A year ago hisfather left we chose to be civil and not go to court. I am now going into the airforce and letting his father and my family care for him. I am scared his father will keep him instead of sticking to the plan we made. Can I give temporary guardianship to someone I trust?
  • 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?
  • My boyfriends little brother is living with us and has been for a long time since their mom got deported. We now need proof of guardianship so he can get his driver license. How do we go about getting this?
  • I live in kansas and my little sister is on phoenix. My mother and her father want to send her to live with me. I would like to know how to properly attain legal guardianship of her so that i can enroll her in school. I dont know what to do
  • I am a single mother of an 8 year old. The father of my child left us when my son was only 3 months old. The father recently contacted me and made it clear that he does not want any obligations with our son. He has not paid child support for 8 years. The father of my son is willing to give up his rights completely. We want to get this done as soon as possible. What can I do? I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer 4 years ago and would like complete guardianship so that in the event that I was to pass on because of my sickness that my son is taken over by my sister who is a very stable person.
  • 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?

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