Many young couples with children and bills to pay may look at you askance, when asked about estate planning and say, “what estate?”
However, a critical part of having a will—one frequently overlooked—is guardianship. If you don’t name a guardian, it could result in issues for your children after your death. Your child might even be placed in a foster home.
For a young family, designating a guardian is another good reason to draft a will. If you and your spouse die together with no guardian specified 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 will 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 make a good decision regarding guardianship.
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 take care of your child.
Try to find common ground, by agreeing to a set of criteria you want in a guardian. This could include the following:
- 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.
Ask an experienced estate planning attorney to help you correctly designate guardianship.
Reference: Lifehacker (Oct. 27, 2020) “Why You Should Name a Guardian for Your Kids Right Away”