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 sister is in prison for the next year. She shared custody of her 2 children with the father. My parents who my sister and kids are living with have been keeping and taking care of them. Now the father filed for full custody. Do my parents have any rights to apply for legal guardianship? What can we do so we can still have the kids every 3 days?
  • How can I get Immediate Temporary Guardianship of a minor when CPS from the reservation is involved? I am helping CPS, and I'm the next closest family member to the minor but I would like to get them with me right away.
  • i have a son and a daughter and i would like my fiance to be their permanent guardian, when we get married does he automatically become their guardian?
  • im 17 years old and a few weeks ago my mother kicked me out. i had one of my friends there to witness, and her mom. now my mom is wanting me to go back, but do i have the legal right not to? its a very unstabkle home, ive been forced to live with her since my father died but now i cant take it anymore. our fights scare me and often have gotten physical since i was 14. Do i have any rights here? im not neccisarily looking into emancipation but id like to have gaurdianship switched to someone i trust.
  • I'm wondering if a Grandparent can get guardianship of a Grandchild through the courts alone? Can the Grandparent get court papers and have the Parent sign them without the Parent going to court also?Doesn't the Grandparent and Parent need to be involved in the court process?
  • Is it legal for a child to be inside of a strip club as long as their adult guardian is with them?
  • I gave my mother temporary gaurdianship over my daughter and I want my baby back she already live with me full time I live near my mom and is not in conflict with her just don't know the proper paperwork in the court papers it States I can take custody at anyanytime what all do I have to do
  • Community Legal in Phoenix does not provide help for guardianship, custody, or parenting time cases. I desperately need a lawyer but can't afford one. How do I find one??
  • My ex-wife has legal and physical custody of our daughter. She is 14 and currently staying with her uncle. I am in the military and stationed in GA. Her uncle says he plans to file for permanent guardianship. I do not want him to have it. She does not want to come live with me. Can he gain guardianship without my consent?
  • 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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