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 only 15 and my parents still legally own me and i need to move out but i dont know how to. i feel if i spend another day with them something bad is gonna happen to me. help?
  • my boyfriends mother has had gaurdianship of our daughter for about two years. what are our rights as her parents??? also she wont even lets us be alone with her??? my fiencee and i are well established with jobs and a nice apartment. what can we do??? please help!!! thank you
  • i have a friend who is now 17 and her grandma had guardian ship of her but had kicked her out of the house and she has been staying with me since. now they are trying to get her to go home but she doesn't feel safe there. how can i make it to where i take over guardian ship of her? or how can she get imancipated she just does not want to go back to that place
  • 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?
  • I am a single mother of an 8 year old. The father of my child left us when my son was only 3 months old. The father recently contacted me and made it clear that he does not want any obligations with our son. He has not paid child support for 8 years. The father of my son is willing to give up his rights completely. We want to get this done as soon as possible. What can I do? I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer 4 years ago and would like complete guardianship so that in the event that I was to pass on because of my sickness that my son is taken over by my sister who is a very stable person.
  • 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?
  • I LIVE IN SPOKANE AND MY PARENTS, WHO HAVE GAURDIANSHIP OF MY 9 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER, LIVE IN TUCSON AZ. I WOULD LIKE TO FILE THE REVOCATION OF GAURDIANSHIP BUT I HAVE NO MONEY AND CAN NOT GO TO ARIZONA FOR COURT. MY PARENTS HAVE HAD MY DAUGHTER FOR TWO YEARS AND I AM READY FOR HER TO COME BACK HOME TO ME......WHAT DO I DO
  • My children would like to stop seeing their biological father. Is this possible or at what age may they do so?
  • My minor grandchild's parents are willing to sign paperwork for me to become the child's guardian. I want to make sure it is done right. Do I need an attorney or can I just have the parents sign forms obtained on the internet?
  • My dad left when i was baby. He just came back into my life a year ago, my mom has custody of me. But this past year i have been emointally abused and have had a few situatons with being physically abused as well. This is causing my school work to drop, and i cant take living here anymore. I have tried to find a way to live with my dad until i graduate, but i would like to know if there is any legal way i can move out, so I can get my life together and finish school without any problems.

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