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 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?
  • I obtained a legal guardianship of my grandchild in California, but now my grandchild and I have moved to Arizona. I want to file a Registration of Foriegn Order. What information do I use to fill in the form where it says "Statute Reference"? How do I file the form once it is complete?
  • My granddaughter's aunt is in the process of getting guardianship of her . Currently her and her husband have temp guardianship for 6 months. I want to take my granddaughter to disneyland for a long weekend but the granddaughter's aunt says that the court has to approve her leaving the state first . Is this true ?
  • 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?
  • I am 19 years old and I have a 13 year old sister. We have the same mother but different dads. Her dad is an alcoholic and our mom is homeless and uses drugs. I want to gain custody of my sister. My mom will probably fight me on this. How do I go about getting custody of my sister?
  • A few years ago my husband and i went to a lawyer and went through the process of appointing a legal guardian for our children, if we should happen to pass away. We have the paperwork at home, in our safe. However, the couple we appointed at the time is not who we want now. What do we have to do to get it changed? We were told we could just write who we want now on a different piece of paper and get that notarized. Is that correct?
  • 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).
  • I married a 16-Year Old female (I was 23) last year legally with proper parental consent. I was curious to know what my guardianship/consent rights are when it comes to my spouse being served legal paperwork or court orders by anyone, including myself. She was not emmancipated before our marriage, and I've had to legally be there to sign on her behalf for reasons such as school signup and notarizing items, so I know that I have some consent.
  • How do I get proction for my grandchilden when my son girl freind can provide a home for them. Son is in jail. we have guardianship of there first child do to drug abuse by monther. She is now living with a cousin and her family along with her sister and there family in one home.
  • my husband left me and my children, he is the father of our 6 yo daughter. He has been gone almost 2 months, and has not helped out financially at all. My question is, in the event of my death or incapacities, how do I grant my parents legal custody of my daughter. I am wondering if I can type a letter and have it notarized since we have not started divorce proceedings at this point in time. I just want to make sure my parents get my children in case of tragedy.

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