How do I choose a guardian for my children?

One of the really difficult things any parent has to consider is “who will take care of  my children if I die?”

Of course, we all hope that we remain alive and competent and we are able to raise our children ourselves. But sometimes Life Happens and our children are left without us. This is going to be a tough time for the kids anyway. And if you haven’t recommended a guardian, there will be even more turmoil as the courts try to decide who should be the person to raise your children.

In most states, the natural (or adoptive) parents are the legal guardians. That means that even if you have full legal custody of your children after a divorce, if something happens to you, the other spouse will become the child’s default guardian. Maybe this is ok, but what about the situation where that other parent is also not available?

Then it is up to the Court to decide on a guardian.  It is much easier if you have nominated a guardian in your Will.  This will tell the Court that you have considered the problem and that you have decided who would be the next best parent for your children.

How do you choose?

You can make a list of the people that you will consider for this important role. (You might also make a list of people that you do NOT want to be guardians).

Then make a list of your own parenting style and what you think is important in your children’s lives. Do you want your children to attend the same church that you attend now? Do you want your children to be able to have a big yard to play in? Do you want your children to be with other children? Or perhaps you want your children to be the only children in the family? Do you want your children to learn how to cook? or work on cars? or be able to use the newest technology?

Then take the list of people on your first list and rank them according to the criteria on your second list.

The person on your list with the highest ranking number is probably the one you should choose.

What do you do then? You should contact your attorney to make sure that you have the correct legal documents to ensure that your choice is known.

And did you know that you can choose one person for the ‘personal’ care of your children and another person to be in charge of your children’s finances?

We all try to make sure our children are safe and that their needs are met when we’re around. We also need to make sure that their needs are met if something happens to us.

If you’d like to discuss this important aspect of parenting, contact the office at 757-234-4650 to set up an appointment!

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