Many young couples with children and bills, when asked about estate planning and say, “what estate?” However, a critical part of having a will—one frequently overlooked—is naming a guardian for minor children. If you don’t name a guardian, it could result in issues for your children after your death.
For a young family, naming a guardian is one of the most important reasons to draft a will. If you and your spouse die together with no guardian designated in a will, the guardian will be chosen by the court.
In a worst-case scenario, if you have no close family or no one in your family who can take your child, the court could even send them to foster care until a permanent guardian can be named.
The judge will collect as much information as possible about your children and family circumstances to name a guardian for your children.
However, the judge won’t have any intimate knowledge of who you know or which of your relatives would be good guardians. This could result in a choice of one of the last people you might pick to raise your children.
Try to find common ground by agreeing to a set of criteria you want in a guardian. This could include:
- The potential guardian’s willingness to be a guardian
- The potential guardian’s financial situation
- Where the child might live with that person
- The potential guardian’s values, religion, or political beliefs
- The potential guardian’s parenting skills; and
- The potential guardian’s age and health.
Next, make a decision, get the chosen guardian’s consent, write it all down, and then set out to create a will so you can legally name a guardian.
Ask an experienced estate planning attorney to help you do it correctly.
Reference: Lifehacker (Oct. 27, 2020) “Why You Should Name a Guardian for Your Kids Right Away”