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

  • my grandkids have been left with me since December 25 which mom is not helping me at all and wont sign power of attorney for me. what can I do to get custody without going thru CPS?
  • My husband and I gave Temp Guardianship and then Guardianship after 2 years to his mother. The years were from 2000-2004 that she had our children. Since June 2004 the children have lived with me. That was Almost 10 years ago. Almost 5 years ago she passed away. At least 7 of the 10 years she has not complied with the court yearly. I want to know since my childrens father and I consented to the guardianship in the first place. Once his mom passed,would the children fall back to us? If not I need to know what papers I should file to say I'm back and I have the children? thanks so much
  • My mother was deported , i need gurdianship for my 6 year old sister so she can go to school i am 18 now can i get gurdianship or do i have to be older ?
  • If a married couple has guardianship of children for the past 5 years, and the couple now wish to divorce. Would the they risk losing the children?
  • My daughter is 12 she ws 11 wen her dad passed away he is on BC we were not married, he has proprty tat ws sold I hv to initiate conservationship on her behalf to set up trust, do I hv to apply to be approve or am I'm automatically approved becuz I'm her mother? I cant afford a high price lawyer is there free legal asst tat can assist me in this process?
  • how can i legal guardianship my expire sisters infant
  • I have guardianship of my two stepchildren and I just moved to Arizona will I be able to apply for any kind of assistance
  • I obtained a legal guardianship of my grandchild in California, but now my grandchild and I have moved to Arizona. I want to file a Registration of Foriegn Order. What information do I use to fill in the form where it says "Statute Reference"? How do I file the form once it is complete?
  • My husband and I have had our grandson since last November. My daughter doesn't make time for her son. She is willing give legal guardianship of my grandson. What do we need to do ?
  • How do I obtain Guardianship of my minor cousins when mother and grandparents are deceased and fathers are not known. I live in Phoenix arizona and they reside in San Diego California?

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