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How do we choose our child's guardian?

No parent likes the thought of passing away and leaving their child in need of care. It's a terrible hypothetical, but one that families should be prepared for in the event of a tragedy.

Whether your child is a minor or an adult without the capacity to care for themselves, who will be responsible for your child and their well being is a key factor to creating an estate plan. If you are struggling to decide who is best suited for this monumental task, here are four things to consider.

1. Who shares your values for raising children?

While whoever takes care of your children in the event of your passing will not be able to completely replace you, they should be someone with whom you share similar values when it comes to child rearing. What are your parenting priorities, and do you know anyone with whom you agree on those priorities?

2. Of those who share your values, who is capable?

Not everyone you share values with will have the capability to care for your child. While you may want them to stay with family, those loved ones may not be able to provide the life your child needs. When considering candidates, ask yourselves a few questions:

  • Is the person financially stable?
  • Are they emotionally and physically healthy?
  • What would my child's day-to-day life look like?
  • How similar would this life be to the one they know?
  • What is their family structure like?
  • Where are they located, especially in relation to other family members and friends?
  • Do they love your children, and does your child love them in such a way that they will feel safe and loved every day?

3. Once you have a candidate, ask permission

If after these steps you have someone in mind, the next task is to ask their permission. Make sure they know what they are signing up for and how it will affect their family. If they decline, go back to the list of potential candidates.

4. If they agree, make it official

Once you have an agreement between you and your selected candidate, make it official by having an estate plan crafted. While some people may recommend creating one yourself, there is room for error if any small detail is missed. Working with an estate planning professional can help add finality to the plan and ensure there is no risk of probate after your death, leading to further distress for your child.

While the task may feel overwhelming, it boils down to finding someone you trust who is capable and willing to step up in the event of the unimaginable. If you follow the steps above, you may find choosing a guardian is easier than you thought.

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