If you have a minor child, it is essential that you appoint a guardian for your child should something happen to you. If you pass away or are no longer able to care for your child due to incapacity, the consequences for your child could be significant.
Failing to Name a Guardian
If you fail to name a guardian for your child, the Clerk of Court will determine who should be your child's guardian. Although family members are often appointed as guardians, the guardian does not necessarily have to be a family member. If you do not designate who the Guardian should be, you will have absolutely no say in who raises your child if you are unable to do so.
Anyone can ask to be a legal guardian of your kids, and the Clerk may grant the request. This is true even if, for example, your sister tells the Clerk that you verbally told her that you wanted her to be the guardian. Instead, you should set out specifically who you would like as your child's guardian in your will.
You may also want to provide a letter of instruction to the guardian that explains your wishes regarding your child's care. For example, you may want to explicitly set out your desires regarding your child's upbringing as it relates to education, religion, and other activities.
Choosing the Right Guardian
Picking the right guardian for your children is a decision that you should not take lightly. Spend some time thinking about how your child would adjust to life with the potential guardian. Below are a few questions that you should consider before making this important decision.
- Will your child have to switch schools? How will he or she adjust to a significant move?
- Does this Guardian have enough space in their home for your child?
- What experience does this potential guardian have with children?
- Does the potential guardian already have his or her hands full with their own kids?
- Does the potential guardian have the time and energy to devote to your child?
- How good is the relationship with the potential guardian and your child currently? Will your child to be comfortable in the potential guardian's home?
You should also consider the age of your potential guardian. Will he or she be too old to keep up with your children's needs?
Be sure to also speak with your potential guardian to ensure that he or she is willing to take on the responsibility of caring for your child. Never assume that the potential guardian is willing to accept this role.
You should also consider the financial aspects of this decision as well. As you know, raising a child is expensive, and your potential guardian should have the financial means to care for your child. You can also set up a trust on your child's behalf to help address some of these issues.
Choosing a guardian and ensuring that your child is well cared for even if you are unable to be there is extremely important for the well-being of your child. If you need assistance with this process, our team can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.