How to Choose a Guardian? 7 Questions to Consider

Becoming a parent is one of the most joyous occasions in your lifetime.  When the little bundle of joy is handed to you for the first time, the feelings are overwhelming.  First, there is a feeling of awe, that you have created this little person with ten little fingers and ten toes.  Then comes the feeling of exhaustion as if you have just run a marathon (or a least what I think running a marathon might feel like). But after the first few days of having a baby, you start to feel the need to protect and love that baby forever.  There are many different emotions that are evident as you begin your journey as a parent!

The responsibilities of being a parent are quite involved but one of the most difficult questions that need to be answered is:  Who would raise your children if something where to happen to you?

Many parents often leave this question unanswered because the thought is too unbearable.  But formalizing the arrangements is in the best interest of everyone involved.  A guardians responsibilities range from the mundane to the monumental and could include everything from tying shoelaces to selecting schools and medical care.  When choosing a guardian, people typically look first to relatives, starting with their own siblings.  A second choice for some people is their own parents, if they are young enough, or an older sibling can sometimes serve as guardian depending on the age gap.

Even if certain family members seem like obvious candidates, you should take into account all the factors that are involved.  The lifestyle, values and location of the guardian should be taken into account.  Both of the parents should agree on the choice of guardian and each of their wills should appoint the same person.  You can supplement your will with letter of memo which outlines your preferences on religion and education which can be used by the guardian as a guideline.

Here are 7 questions that you should consider when choosing a guardian:

  1.  Do I have a relative or close friend who would be willing to take on that role?
  2. Am I comfortable with the individual’s lifestyle and values?
  3. Does the person have children and what are the ages?
  4. If I have more than one child, would the guardian be able to keep them together?
  5. Does my child have a good relationship with the guardian?
  6. Would my child have to relocate?
  7. Would the guardian provide the attention that my child would need?

Appointing a guardian is a difficult task for any loving parent.  The choice may be someone unexpected but if they are able to provide a loving home for your child that is what is most important.

About Maureen Crimmins

Maureen Crimmins is co-founder of Crimmins Wealth Management and a fee-only independent financial advisor. Have a financial question? ASK MAUREEN

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