Although it can be a difficult conversation, parents need to consider what happens if they pass away while their child is a minor. Issues like probate, taxes and directing bequests to certain people quickly become secondary to who you want to raise your child. For new parents, this is often a difficult decision. Working with a qualified attorney can help you choose the best guardian(s) and navigate these cloudy waters. While there are no hard and fast answers, there are a few key factors that should be considered:
1) What is the potential guardian’s family situation?
- Is the potential guardian married? Do they have minor children of their own? If they are married, how stable is the relationship? These are all important considerations when determining who should be left to care for your child. Most parents choose to mirror their own family dynamic when considering a guardian.
2) What is the potential guardian’s financial situation?
- Does the potential guardian have a stable job? Do they make enough money that adding a dependent would not negatively impact them? Do they properly budget? Although these questions may seem intrusive, finances are very important when selecting a guardian. Not only is their own income relevant, but in the event both parents are deceased, the guardian is also in charge of overseeing the inheritance of the child until they reach age 18. Therefore, budgeting skills are crucial.
3) How old is the potential guardian?
- Age is a consideration in two aspects. Is the potential guardian old enough to be responsible for a child? In the alternative, is the guardian too old to relate and be a good parent? Often, this is one of the hardest questions parents must ask. If someone is too young, it is not likely they have the life experience to help develop a child. However, many times the automatic response is that grandparents should get the children. It is crucial to consider how the age difference could impact the upbringing of the child.
4) What are the potential guardian’s religious, political and moral beliefs?
- How will the child be raised? In what church or religion should they be raised? By what moral code will they operate? This can often be the deciding factor in choosing the best guardian for your minor child. As mentioned above, most parents will want to mirror the type of upbringing they would desire for the child in their guardian selection. Therefore, considering who has like-minded values can be very important when making this consideration.
The decision of who to nominate as a guardian for a minor child is a difficult one and although the points above are by no means exhaustive, they are a good starting point. The decision however, is not a decision parents need to make on their own. Since AlerStallings only deals with Estate Planning needs, we have seen all types of situations and have been able to guide these discussions with great success. We have even developed a manual to help guardians. If guardianship is something you need to get in place, please feel free to give us a call at 877-912-3464. We would be glad to help you get the conversation started.