Whom Should I Consider?
If you have sole custody or sole guardianship of your child in a court order or separation agreement, you may wish to consider appointing a guardian for your child in the event of your death.
Consider grandparents and siblings first, but don’t stop there. If you have aunts, cousins, close family friends, religious leaders, or even teachers that your child would be happy with, put them on your list of potential guardians. Sometimes the people you might overlook in favour of immediate family would be the best option. Talk to these potential guardians and determine if they would be agreeable to acting in this capacity in the event of your death.
Will My Child be Happy with Them?
One of the most important questions to ask is where would be best for your child. Would a significant relocation be difficult? If so, consider finding a guardian living close to your hometown. Does the child love and respect your chosen guardian? Does that guardian love your child in return?
No one can replace you as a parent, but do your best to find someone with a strong love for your child so that the responsibility does not become resentment.
Are They Financially Capable?
You don’t have to worry about finances as much as you might think—that’s what life insurance is for. Your chosen guardians will get financial help from your insurance. Make sure you talk openly about your financial situation with your chosen guardians before they accept or decline, just to be sure they know how much financial help they can expect to receive from your estate.
Is Their Health Good Enough?
If you want to choose your parents as guardians, consider their health. Are they active and healthy enough to care for a young child? Or would it be better if your child went to a younger couple?
Do They Have a Similar Social/Religious/Economic Background?
Your chosen guardian doesn’t have to be of the same socio-economic background or religion, but it may make the transition for your child much easier. Going to one church and switching suddenly to another could be difficult and emotional. Making a large drop or climb in socio-economic status could be equally difficult.
Consider what your child is used to and happy with, and try to find him a home with a similar background.
Would My Child Fit into Their Lifestyle?
Does your named guardian have children? Would your child fit into that family’s lifestyle? If your child is used to a more sedentary lifestyle and the guardian’s family is all about travelling, it might be difficult for your child to adjust to such an abrupt change. If he loves school, sports, or music, try to find family or friends who would support and encourage his hobbies instead of trying to have him conform to theirs.
Do I Want a Temporary Guardian?
Permanent guardians are important in case of death, but you might also want to consider naming a temporary guardian. This chosen family member or friend would take your child if you were incapacitated in an accident and needed someone to care for him until you recovered.
Is This Choice Permanent?
Once you choose a guardian, that decision isn’t set in stone. You can always change your mind and rewrite your will to name a different guardian. Some people change their preferences multiple times to keep up with their children’s personality and the eligibility of the guardian.
The home you picked for your child when he was 4 might not be the same home that’s best for him when he’s a teenager. And sometimes a set of guardians will get divorced and no longer be a viable option. If circumstances change, don’t hesitate to call your lawyer at Valerie M Little Law Corporation and change your will.