Over 60% of parents have not chosen a guardian for their children. If you have not designated a guardian legally and clearly, then you are putting your children at risk of being raised by someone that you don’t trust or that you would never choose. Most of us cringe at the thought of a court appointed person or Judge who has never met us, determining who will raise our children and manage the money that we’ve carefully set aside for their care.
Start the conversation with your child’s other parent about who should raise your children and who should manage the money that you’ve left to them. Consider having a guardian of the person (who parents them) and guardian of the estate (who manages the money). Let’s face it some of us are better at “parenting” than investing and managing significant sums of money. Who immediately comes to mind as a good candidate? Now, press a little harder.
1. Do your children know them? Ideally, your guardian selection will be someone your children already know and trust and not someone they have only met once or twice.
2. Will they raise your children with the same values and beliefs that you would? Will they make wise financial decisions on your children’s behalf?
3. How old are they and are they in good health? Choosing your 75 year old mother who has health issues or dementia is probably not a good candidate. You don’t want your children to lose yet another caregiver at a tender age.
4. Do they already have a family? Would your children blend in well with their family and get along with the other children?
5. Are they willing to take on the responsibility? Be sure you have a candid conversation with them before you name them as a guardian.
Now choose who will be your first choice, second choice, etc. and call an attorney to draft it for you so that it’s done right. It’s okay if the other parent wants to designate guardians in a different order. So long as you both agree who is good and who is not so good for your kiddos. You can always change your mind later as your life and circumstances change.
Jennifer Cochran-Green is hosting a FREE Brown Bag Lunch and Learn for women, in partnership with the Dripping Springs Community Library, entitled “Choosing a Guardian for Your Children” on Friday, April 14 at 11:30 at the library. Call (512) 870-8187 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your seat.