I know it’s hard. Thinking about someone else raising our children stops us all in our tracks. But we must. If we don’t, and something happens to us, a stranger will determine who raises our children – and your child’s guardian could be a relative you despise or even a stranger you’ve never met. It happens.
No one will ever be you or parent exactly like you, but you can’t let that stop you from naming a guardian. In fact, the guardian of your children would easily become the most important person in their lives and could be the difference between them surviving the tragedy of losing you and going on to be happy, healthy, and successful or not. And while the likelihood of your guardian actually having to take over is slim, the consequences of having a stranger make that incredibly important decision could be dire.
If you have not named a guardian and something happens to you – a stranger who does not know you, your child, or your relatives and friends – will determine who will raise your child. Anyone can ask to be considered, and the judge will have the authority to decide. Keep in mind, too, families tend to fight over children, especially if there’s money involved. And fights can lead judges to order the child into foster care until the matter is resolved. On the other hand, if you name a guardian, all of that can be avoided.
How to Choose a Guardian
Your child’s guardian can be a relative or friend. Here are some of the factors to consider when selecting guardians (and don’t forget to select back up guardians, too).
- How well the child and potential guardian know and enjoy each other
- Parenting style, moral values, educational level, health practices, religious/spiritual beliefs
- Location – if the guardian lives far away, your child would have to move from a familiar school, friends, and neighborhood
- The child’s age and the age and health of the guardian-candidates:
- Grandparents may have the time, but they may or may not have the energy to keep up with a toddler or teenager.
- An older guardian may become ill and/or even die before the child is grown, so there would be a double loss.
- A younger guardian, especially a sibling, may be concentrating on finishing college or starting a career.
Remember, it Doesn’t Count if You Don’t Document it
I know it’s not easy, but don’t let that stop you. I’m happy to talk this through with you and legally document your wishes. And know that you can change your mind and select a different guardian anytime you’d like – also – the chances of needing the guardian you’ve named are small; but, you’re a parent and your job is to provide for and protect your children no matter what, so if you haven’t taken care of naming legal guardians yet, stop procrastinating and get it done.
Dedicated to empowering your family, building your wealth and securing your legacy,