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 am a single mom of 4 children (20, 19, 13, & 10). I divorced the children's father almost 8 yrs ago. I have full sole custody, and he was granted supervised visitation 2 hrs a week. Soon after the divorce, he stopped seeing or contacting the children. He currently has 5 felony warrants in the state of AZ for drugs and such and owes large fines. He fled the state about 6 yrs ago. And has not been seen or heard from since then. I want to know what I can do in lieu of custody of my children in the event of my death. Obviously the older children are safe; however, my 2 younger children I am concerned about. They do not know him or even know what he looks like. A long time fear of mine is that he could come and take them from family and friends here. Am I able to leave them to a more capable and safe guardian? And if so, what can I do without racking up large attorney fees? Thanks so much.
When I was 14, my olet sister had a baby boy. A few days before he was turning two years old, she was found abusing him and my other older sisters 5 year old daughter. The police did nothing but a few months later, she left and never came back. I've been taking care of the boy since he was barely 2. He's almost 8 now. My mother was supposed to try to get custody and hand it to me but she didn't. Now I'm 21. He knows me as his parent. He doesn't know anyrhing else..what can I do if the mother isn't around?
i need help trying to get started on taking guardianship of my girlfriend. shes living with me and another family i just recently got an apartment i wanted her to move in with me but shes 17 and can't be on the lease. what can i do to try and get temporary guardianship until she turns 18 in july
Yes my wife has had custody of her niece since she was 6 months old her niece now is almost 7 years old the biological mother is now starting to show up in the picture but only reason why she is the picture is because she has had another baby in the last 3 months cps was involved because she was dirty with meth i just wanna know what rights does my wife have because the biological n the grandmother have been arguing with my wife bout taking the 7 year old back but the 7 year old know as mom n dad
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 LIVE IN SPOKANE AND MY PARENTS, WHO HAVE GAURDIANSHIP OF MY 9 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER, LIVE IN TUCSON AZ. I WOULD LIKE TO FILE THE REVOCATION OF GAURDIANSHIP BUT I HAVE NO MONEY AND CAN NOT GO TO ARIZONA FOR COURT. MY PARENTS HAVE HAD MY DAUGHTER FOR TWO YEARS AND I AM READY FOR HER TO COME BACK HOME TO ME......WHAT DO I DO
We are seeking to get guardianship of our grandson who is 1. Our daughter lives with us & he stays with me 95% of the time, however she does not provide financial care for him. We believe she has some mental issues that need to be addressed, although she refuses to seek care. When she chooses to care for him, she makes choices that are neglectful & at times putting him in danger. How do we accomplish this task with her living in our home, proving the issues we see daily, keeping him safe with us & hoping she gets the help she needs.
what paper work do i need to give someone gaurdianship
My husband's niece has two daughters in foster care in Mesa. We live in Alabama and are interested in becoming the girls guardians. She has a restraining order against her Mother. Will there be an issue with being insufficiently close kin?
My sister is pregnant and she has a two minor children already that is out of the home. Her daughter has been adopted by the fathers parents an her son has been adopted by another family and she is pregnant yet again and has got into alot of trouble i want to get custody of the baby but i dont know if i should obtain Power of Attorey or should i go for Guardianship or Legal Custody I need help bad and soon!!!!!!
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