Many are familiar with Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” This book series follows the lives of three orphans whose parents failed to identify a proper guardian for their children in their Last Will and Testament. As a result, the children are left in the hands of the devious Count Olaf. This is not the outcome any loving parent would want for their child. We all have our children’s best interests at heart and would hope that, if we were unable to raise them ourselves due to extremely unfortunate circumstances, our children would be raised by someone we personally know, trust, and choose. This is where the value of a properly written guardianship provision cannot be overstated.
A guardianship provision can be a stand-alone document or a section of your last will and testament. Regardless of how you get it done, it is the most important document you can leave your children.
For some, choosing a guardian for your children is an easy and clear decision. For others it takes some serious thought and maybe even a pros/cons list. If you identify more with the second, here are five factors to consider when choosing a guardian for your children.
- Your Children’s Desires. In some states, older minors are able to provide input regarding who should serve as their guardian. Especially if you have any children 10 or older, it might be wise to let them in on the guardianship conversation. They are, after all, the ones who would be required to live with that person. Their input may be the most important factor to consider.
- The Person’s Willingness and Ability to Act as Guardian. Just as consulting your child is important in deciding whom to name as their guardian, it is just as essential to ask if your selected person is willing to serve in that capacity. It is important to ask that person: Can you meet the physical and economic demands of raising an additional child(ren)? and Are you willing to serve as guardian? Don’t be upset if they don’t respond to your request immediately. Becoming a guardian is a huge responsibility. It’s important that your selected guardian have the opportunity to seriously consider if they are willing and able to serve before you place them in that role.
- Religion, Moral Values, or Child-Rearing Philosophy. If it is important to you that your child be reared in a particular religion or with a specific set of values, or by a certain child-rearing philosophy, then selecting an individual with similar views of these areas should be a top priority when you are considering individuals who could serve as your child’s guardian. Additionally, it would be important to communicate your specific desires in these areas to your selected guardian so they are aware of your wishes. This allows not only for your children to be raised as you would raise them, but also minimizes the adjustment for your children into a new home.
- The Family of the Guardian. It’s important not only to consider the guardian themselves but also their family situation. Do you mind if they are single? Do you want your children to be raised with other children? Do you know if their family life is stable? These questions may more clearly define whom you want to serve as your children’s guardian.
- The Proximity to Your Current Home. Your children will have to do a lot of adjusting in a short period of time if they must be placed with a guardian. One thing to consider is if you would like to minimize the adjustments as much as possible by finding a guardian who is close to home. This might allow your children to see their friends, attend the same school and/or church, and have familiar places around them during a difficult time. While who raises the children may be more important than where they are raised, this is something to consider when selecting a guardian.
These five factors are just a few of the many things you should be considering when selecting your child’s guardian. While it is sometimes difficult to face the possibility of a tragedy that would require your children to live with a guardian, it is better to have a plan in place for your children and for your own peace of mind. If you would like to get a guardianship provision started, please contact us by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 303-968-1710.
Saret, L. (April 18, 2011). Appointing a Guardian for a Minor Child. Retrieved from www.forbes.com/sties/lewissaret/2011/04/18/appointing-a-guardian-for-a-minor-child/#37be9b4a3a5a on July 11, 2017.