07/24/2012

Estate Planning for Parents of Minor Children, Part 1

Naming a guardian

The thought of not being able to raise your child is an unimaginable and dreadful thought.  However, it is crucial for parents to plan for the worst case scenario to ensure that if something happens then his or her children will be raised by their pre-selected guardian(s).

Without guidance, the court will choose a guardian for the minor children.  A nomination of guardian which is properly prepared and documented will be followed by the court.  Thus, it is imperative that parents document their choices.  There are several factors that may be considered before making this decision.  Some factors to consider are as follows:

  • What are the ages, physical health, and mental health status of the proposed guardian(s)?
  • What is the economic situation of the proposed guardian(s)?
  • Does the proposed guardian(s) have room for the child or children in their residence?
  • Where do the proposed guardian(s) live?  Would your child have to be re-located and change schools if he or she went to live with the proposed guardian(s)?
  • How close are the proposed guardian(s) to your child or children?  Do they have a viable, bonded relationship with the proposed guardian(s)?  How much time has your children spent with the proposed guardian(s) over the years?
  • Does the proposed guardian(s) share your same values and will the proposed guardian(s) raise the child or children in a way that would meet your approval?
  • What are the family dynamics of the proposed guardian’s family?  Will your child or children feel comfortable living with the proposed guardian’s family?

It is important to discuss your choice with the proposed guardian and ascertain whether he or she is willing to act in this capacity, if needed.  It is also advisable to name a primary guardian as well as alternates, in the event that the primary guardian is unable to serve.