Guardianship of Minor Article


Selecting a Guardian for Your Minor Children

According to a recent survey, only 36% of U.S. parents with minor children have a will. This means that 64% of children do not have a legal guardian selected for them by their parents in the event of the unexpected. Instead, these children will be the subject of guardianship proceedings by the state court system and social services department. In the same way that parents aim to protect their children during life, parents should act to avoid such circumstances and instead ensure their children are well taken care of in the event something where to happen to them.

Choosing a guardian can be overwhelming. Many couples have not finalized their will and estate plans simply because they cannot agree on a guardian. Parents should not delay for this reason. Parents should think about what qualities are most important to them in a possible future caretaker for their children. Consider the following questions:
  • Who will love your children in your absence?
  • Who will afford your children a safe, stable environment?
  • Are there social or religious qualities that are important to you?
  • Where do you want your children to live and be raised?
  • Who has qualities you respect and admire and would want passed on to your children?
  • Would a family member or close friend be a better caretaker?
  • Who would honor your memory?
Parents struggling with the issue of guardianship should answer these and other questions that are important to them and have a serious, rational conversation and come to an agreement on guardianship. Failing to reach an agreement on guardianship is tantamount to allowing a judge and social worker unknown to you and your children to decide guardianship.
Importantly, parents should identify 2 or 3 possible guardians, to ensure a back-up plan in the event one or more guardians are unable or unwilling to act as guardian. After you’ve agreed on a list of possible guardians, schedule a time to talk to each person about the issue of guardianship. Tell them: “We are meeting with our attorney to work on our estate plans and would like to talk to you about a few issues that are important to us.”

When you’re ready to have that conversation, here are some issues you should cover:
  • The ask: “We’ve thought a lot about the type of person/family we’d like to help raise our children in the event we were to pass away unexpectedly. We would be honored if you would consider acting as guardian of our children.” Let them know if there are family, religious, emotional, social, or other reasons that were important to you in selecting them as a possible guardian. You can also let them know if there are qualities or beliefs you hope they pass on to your children.
  • The arrangements you’ve made: “We’re meeting with our estate planning attorney to finalize ours wills/trust. We intend to make sure you are provided with the necessary finances to care for our children.” You may want to mention if you’ve purchase life insurance or have set up trusts to assist them financially. You can also discuss if you will allow them the choice to live in your home while they are raising your children.
  • Give them time: “We know this is a big responsibility. Please think about it and let us know if you will act as guardian.” Tell them when your next meeting with your attorney is and ask that they get back to you by then.
Choosing a guardian for your children is an enormous responsibility and should be taken seriously. But the importance of the decision should not be a reason to delay providing for your children.

Contributing Attorney: Allison Kierman is an attorney at Kierman Law, PLC where she provides assistance with estate planning and business consulting.

Comments:

QUESTIONS

  • im 14 ive been living with my grandma for 6 months. My mom does drugs and my little sister and little brother live with her and her new husband(does and sells drugs). i moved out on my own. my sister doesnt want to. now my mom is saying that she has ALL athority over me. Does she? is she still my legal gardian?
  • MY FRIEND NEEDS SUPPORT RAISING HER SON. THE FATHER IS NOT AROUND. THE TODDLER'S MOM ISN'T STABLE AND I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE OVER OF HIS MEDICAL. WHAT INITIAL STEPS MUST I TAKE.
  • My sister gave my husband and I power of attorney over her son when he was a month old because she had several outstanding warrants including one for failure to pay child support for her other two children. She turned herself in and was out in about a month she asked for baby back and complied, about a week later she was incarcerated again. We got the baby he was 3 months he will be turning 2 soon she was recently released from prison and has only had contact with him twice. She wants to take him with her but she does not have a job or her own place. What can I do to keep her from taking him.
  • what can i do to get my social security card if my grandmother doesnt have legal gaurdianship over me?
  • We took my husband's sister in almost a year ago she had been in fostercare for 17 months in alabama. We didn't know what we were getting into she has become more than we can handle. She is ruining our family. How can we give her back to the state.?
  • How old does a child need to be to say where they would rather live?
  • Okay everyone I have a question where downtown can I go to establish my parental rights over my 2 year old son,so his father could never take him from me. My son's father has been in prison for over a year a d 3 months and now h3 is out and trying to give me a schedule on how we should share our son and I feel with his drug use and past I don't feel comfortable with agreeing with him on his schedule besides I believe since I have been raising and providing for my son his entire life I should have the say of how the schedule should be.
  • paternal gmother given guardianship through protective services and sent ward to live in Nevada with maternal gmother and gfather with informal "custody" note then informal gship under NV law. maternal gmother and gfather want to adopt and have consent of guardian as well as consent of mother and unknown father's rights have been terminated. Need to know how to terminate the gship now that adoption case been filed in NV.
  • Yes my wife has had custody of her niece since she was 6 months old her niece now is almost 7 years old the biological mother is now starting to show up in the picture but only reason why she is the picture is because she has had another baby in the last 3 months cps was involved because she was dirty with meth i just wanna know what rights does my wife have because the biological n the grandmother have been arguing with my wife bout taking the 7 year old back but the 7 year old know as mom n dad
  • My Gandson's mother took off when he was 3 weeks old, he resides with my son since we brought him home from the hospital.. My question is do how do I go about getting gardianship of him when my son goes into the Airforce in Feb, my son is willing to sign custody over to myself does the mother still have the right to take him since she does not come around to see my now 5 month old grandson?

STORIES

  • I just helped my mother, age 89, deal with her Medicare HMO. . .
  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .
  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .

LegalLEARN

YOUR FEEDBACK IS NEEDED

  • Welcome to our Newly Redesigned Website! Let us know how we are doing! Please take a couple of minutes to fill out our survey.

FIND LEGAL HELP

  • Please select your county of residence below.

    County:
     

OTHER LEGAL RESOURCES

  • State Bar of Arizona
    www.azbar.org
  • Maricopa County Bar
    www.maricopabar.org
    Referral number 602-257-4434
  • Pima County Bar
    www.pimacountybar.org
    Referral number 520-623-4625
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    800-799-7233
  • Bankruptcy Court Self Help Center
    866-553-0893
  • Certified Legal Document Preparer Program
    Link

ORGANIZATIONS