Becoming a parent changes people. Their child quickly becomes the most important consideration in every decision, ranging from where the family lives to how they spend the holidays.
As a new parent, your life has probably changed a lot in the last few years. You will, of course, want to spend a long and joyful life supporting your child and watching them grow. However, life is unpredictable, and your child would be vulnerable if you die while they are still a minor.
If there isn’t a biological or legal parent alive to support them, your child could wind up in state custody. Choosing the right guardian now could protect your child if something ever happens to you. How do you determine the right person to name as guardian?
People often choose from their inner circle
You know the people closest to you better than others, so you can probably decide relatively quickly whether your siblings, closest friends or cousins will be able to serve as a guardian for your child.
Acting as a guardian to a child who has just lost their parents is not easy. Compassion and kindness are important, but so, too, are structure and responsibilities. You need someone who is capable of handling the daily needs of your child and who does not have too many demands of their own to detract from that responsibility.
Choosing several people who might serve as a good guardian is a good first step in the process.
A guardian candidate should willingly accept the responsibility
You don’t just want to name someone as a guardian in your last will and trust that they will step up if you die. You need to talk about what guardianship would mean with them and explore whether they are willing and able to fill that role.
Sometimes, even well-qualified individuals refuse authority like guardianship even from people. Having several people to talk to before drafting your plan and naming an alternate in your paperwork will help ensure there will be someone to step up if the need arises.
Taking out life insurance or setting up a trust is only part of protecting your children with an estate plan. Naming the right guardian can be one of the most important estate planning steps that you ever take.