Selecting a Guardian for Your Minor ChildrenAccording 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?
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.
Contributing Attorney: Allison Kierman is an attorney at Kierman Law, PLC where she provides assistance with estate planning and business consulting.
Hello, I am filling out an annual report of guardian for my minor niece for the first time. Is there an official form that our doctor must fill out as the doctor's report or is it simply a letter from our pediatrician reporting on my niece's current health? Thank you.
How do I go about getting guardianship of a minor that was put out of his home and is now living with me?
My mother Passed away on June 28, 2013. Since then my dad has remarried and kicked my little brother out of his home he is currectly living with my older brother, my sister in law and I. We recently tried to get him registered for school but could not and had to wait on my father who is always late with things that are not pertaining to him. He also gets my brother social security he give it to him. I do not think its fair that my lil brother should have to go over my dad's house with his new wife and get his own money or any other document. Please let me know how to obtain guardianship.
How do I go about giving guardianship or power of attorney of my son to my sister and brother in law
I am a single mom of 4 children (20, 19, 13, & 10). I divorced the children's father almost 8 yrs ago. I have full sole custody, and he was granted supervised visitation 2 hrs a week. Soon after the divorce, he stopped seeing or contacting the children. He currently has 5 felony warrants in the state of AZ for drugs and such and owes large fines. He fled the state about 6 yrs ago. And has not been seen or heard from since then. I want to know what I can do in lieu of custody of my children in the event of my death. Obviously the older children are safe; however, my 2 younger children I am concerned about. They do not know him or even know what he looks like. A long time fear of mine is that he could come and take them from family and friends here. Am I able to leave them to a more capable and safe guardian? And if so, what can I do without racking up large attorney fees? Thanks so much.
My mother, who lives in Wisconsin, has guardianship of her minor grandson. She has been his guardian for about 7 years (since the death of his father in 2007). The minor's biological mother is living, but her whereabouts has been unknown for the same time. My mother is currently receiving financial support from the state for the minor. My mother also has to re-apply each year to continue guardianship. My mother wants to relocate to Arizona with the minor. My question is: 1.can my mother leave the state of Wisconsin with the minor?
I have full guardianship of my 17year old nephew. Father has been court ordered to pay 50% of past medical bills. He is refusing until I provide him copies of the bills. Nephew doesn't want to because they show record of the PTSD his father caused and he is afraid of his father retaliating. Am I required to provide them or are we protected by HIPPA privacy laws?
How Do i get guardianship of my 15 yr old sister she has been in my care for a year and half my mother signed a notarized letter stating she gave me temp custody of the child. My mother is currently living in Calif. and is in the process of trying to remove her from my home. My sister does not want to live with her neither one of the parents live in AZ. My question is basically how do i go about getting guardianship of her. Please help ...
I am 19 years of age and I have a girlfriend that lives currently in mesa arizona. Although she has a guardian, can I pick her up and bring her back with me to live with me in greensboro north carolina if she leaves a note willingly at her assisted living home stating that she left with me by her own choice?
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
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