Is it time to consider how you want to protect your child's future if you aren't here to do it personally?
Choosing a guardian to raise and nurture your child in your place is a tough task. It can be made a lot tougher by the emotions involved in the decision. First, you have to face the idea that your child could grow up without you. Second, you have to recognize that nobody can ever do the job of raising your child exactly the way you want. Finally, you have to put everybody else's wishes aside -- especially if several people would like to be chosen -- and decide what's best for your child.
That's a lot of pressure. Your family law attorney can help you write your will, but you have to make the big decisions. Here's an idea that can help you pick a guardian:
1. Make your list of candidates and apply a four-prong test.
Once you have your list, take into consideration each of the following things:
- Emotional maturity
- Financial stability
For example, your mother may have been a great mother to you. However, if she's in poor health and getting up there in years, it wouldn't be fair to your child to make her your child's guardian. Your child might face a second loss -- and life change -- if your mother dies before your child is grown.
Your kid brother may be a lot like you and have all the same beliefs that you have -- but is he mature enough to handle a child? If he isn't really settled in his life and career, that wouldn't be fair to him or your child.
Rule out anyone that doesn't pass all four tests.
2. Use two final factors to put your choices in order.
Look at the remaining list. Ask the following questions:
- Who has the deepest personal relationship with your child? You don't want to pick anyone who isn't highly attached to your child already.
- What is their relationship with the rest of your child's family or support system? Is it what you would want for your child?
Based on these two factors, you can rank your choices from strongest to weakest. It's important to have more than one potential guardian chosen in case your first choice is unable to serve.
Source: Forbes, "How To Choose The Right Guardian For Your Child," Liz Frazier Peck, accessed Jan. 31, 2018