It’s bad enough that 64% of Americans don’t have a will, but most parents of minor children have not named guardians for their children either. And in some ways this might be even worse than not having a will. Why? Because if you don’t choose a guardian for your children and you pass away, then a judge will choose one for you. And the person the judge chooses may not be who you would choose. In fact, it is possible that the judge could end up choosing someone you would absolutely not want raising your kids.
So how do you name someone as the guardian of your children? The easiest way is to just include language in your will that spells out who you want to take care of your children if you were to die before they became adults. Likewise, you could execute a separate document called a Declaration Of Appointment Of Guardian For My Children.
Who should you choose to be the guardian of your children? First of all, you need to think of someone who you believe shares the same values you have and someone who you believe would be the kind of parent you aspire to be. Those are not always easy qualities to find in this day and age, but of course the effort could end up being more than worth it for your children.
Another thing to think about is where the guardian currently lives. Perhaps someone you know has very similar values and would have a similar parenting style to you, but maybe this person lives very far away from friends and family members who are currently near where you and your children live. If you live in Texas now, despite how wonderful this person is, would moving to New York or Nebraska or wherever be more of an additional strain on your children than it’s worth? There’s lots to think about.
Likewise, before naming someone as the guardian of your children, it really is a good idea to discuss this with the potential guardian. You are not legally required to do so, but you should do it. This person may have some life plans or a particular personal or work-related situation that you do not know about which would alter your choice. Plus, it’s just being courteous if you ask me.
But whoever you think should be the guardian of your children if you were to pass away, make sure you have made it clear in an appropriate legal document. The health and well-being of your children are at stake.