The birth of a child is an event that often prompts parents to get their estate plans in order. Usually, they’re concerned about naming someone to step into their shoes if the worst happens.
Choosing a legal guardian for your child is an important decision that requires careful thought and consideration. Here are some key factors to consider:
Do they share your values and parenting style?
Look for a potential guardian who shares your values, beliefs, and parenting style. Consider their approach to discipline, education, medical care, religion and anything else you feel is important. Compatibility in these areas can help ensure that your child’s upbringing aligns with your wishes. You also need to assess a potential guardian’s parenting skills and physical capacity to care for a child. Your parents, for example, may be lovely people, but their health issues, age and physical limitations may make it difficult or impossible for them to handle a child long-term.
Is their overall life fairly stable?
Your younger sister might share your values and be in a good position to be your child’s guardian – but not if she’s still trying to launch her career and moves around every year or two to pursue better opportunities. Look for a guardian who can provide a stable environment for your child. Consider everything from a potential guardian’s general lifestyle and employment stability to the presence of a good support system in their lives that would provide additional emotional and practical resources if they’re someday raising your child.
Are they willing to take on this responsibility?
You never want to make this kind of thing a surprise. Once you’ve decided who would make the best guardian for your child, discuss the situation with the person you’ve chosen. Make sure that they fully understand what you’re asking and are willing to accept the appointment.
Choosing a guardian for your child is a deeply personal decision. It’s important to take the time to evaluate potential guardians carefully and to have open and honest conversations with them about your wishes and expectations before seeking legal guidance to formalize your estate planning paperwork.