When planning your estate as a young parent, the most difficult decision you will make is choosing a guardian for your child in the event of your death and, if applicable, your spouse’s death. It is nearly unimaginable to think of another person raising your child. Yet it’s vital to prepare for all possibilities.
If you had to choose someone to raise your child, who would it be? What qualities should they possess and what things should you consider as you contemplate who to choose?
What to look for
- They already have a loving relationship with your child. Think not just about family but also about close friends. Consider all those who love your child and have a good relationship with you.
- The guardian should be an individual, not a couple. People get divorced, which makes naming couples complicated and risky. You are better off choosing one individual and allowing their partner to assist with raising the child if the worst happens.
- They are an age-appropriate choice. Be conscious about naming your parents or older adults as guardians due to the time factor. Wills can be updated, but it is easy to forget to do so. If you were to name a parent who has passed away as a guardian in your will, anyone you know can sue for custody, putting your child in even more distress after your death.
- They share your values. If education is important to you, make sure the person you choose would carry out your wishes in that regard. If you want your child to follow their dreams to be a musician, that’s just as important. Maybe you are religious, and it’s crucial to you that your child be raised in a certain way due to that. Write it all down and consider who you could trust with the responsibility of caring for your child.
- They are financially, physically and emotionally stable. You obviously want the best for your child. That includes finding a secure and dependable home environment. The guardian you choose should be able to provide for your child in addition to any family they currently have. In addition, has your child met their spouse/children? Do they get along? How far away does the potential guardian live from your current home, your child’s current school and all their friends?
- They are willing. A guardian who is not sure is simply not the right choice. It is a huge responsibility to take on raising a child. Before you put a guardian in your will, be sure to discuss it with them and gain their permission.
Remember, this is a worst-case scenario plan. If all goes well, you will live a long and healthy life and be there for every milestone, from pre-school to graduation to their wedding to the birth of your first grandchild.
Still, preparing your estate is not only the most responsible thing you can do for your family but also the kindest goodbye you can say. You are taking care of them even after you pass away.