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

  • Hello my son is 3 years old. A year ago hisfather left we chose to be civil and not go to court. I am now going into the airforce and letting his father and my family care for him. I am scared his father will keep him instead of sticking to the plan we made. Can I give temporary guardianship to someone I trust?
  • 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.?
  • My husband's niece has two daughters in foster care in Mesa. We live in Alabama and are interested in becoming the girls guardians. She has a restraining order against her Mother. Will there be an issue with being insufficiently close kin?
  • 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.
  • im 14 yr old and both my parents do drugs and have serious achol problems they both been 2 jail for domestic violence i have a lil brothere can i take there parental rights away and give them 2 2 of your fanily memberes that can take care of us and not let them have any contact with me or my little brother and still have contact with or othere family
  • I am 15 and I would like to move out because it is not in my best interest to live with my mom I continually get into fights with my mom(verbally) I also get into fights with my step dad (he has hit me on multiple occasions) I have a place to stay at my friends house his dad said it would be okay for me to move in I would have my own room (I live in an attic at my moms)can I legally move in without parental consent
  • 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 am not wanted by my family anymore, im 17 and have been out of the house already for 2 months on my own, living with my girl friend. I want to buy an apartment, and buy a car, but since im 17 would It be possible to do so?
  • When I was 14, my olet sister had a baby boy. A few days before he was turning two years old, she was found abusing him and my other older sisters 5 year old daughter. The police did nothing but a few months later, she left and never came back. I've been taking care of the boy since he was barely 2. He's almost 8 now. My mother was supposed to try to get custody and hand it to me but she didn't. Now I'm 21. He knows me as his parent. He doesn't know anyrhing else..what can I do if the mother isn't around?
  • My younger cousin who calls me aunt has been arrested And cps has gotten involved. Although her daughter has already been living here for 6 months they say I need guardianship of the child and need it by the next day or they will have no choice but to take guardianship of her while they say she can still live with me. My question is would it be easier to get the child's mother (and legal ) to sign over guardianship or to go through the courts which is going to cost me 350$ and will take weeks to get a court date?

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