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

  • Guardianship of 2 minors not related to myself or my fiancé.. we have two children that have been willingly given to us by there father and we would like to get temporary custody for them so we have time to start the full adoption papers... Both parents are iagreeable with us taking them but some of there other family isint happy about it. We are not requesting any money or anything from parents. What is the quickest and simplest way to file something so they can't take them away from us (the family, not parents).
  • Where can I get legal forms for adult guardianship for my disabled daughter ??
  • My son got custody of his two boys about three years ago before that we had them for a year. There mom just left. If I want to be the guardian in case something happened to my son. Would there mom have a say so on this. She doesn't do anything for them. She is not allowed to see them. If she does see them her mom has to be there. Which is maybe once every two three months.
  • I'm a school counselor and over the semester I've gotten to know my students. One in particular has a mother in Mexico, and is living home to home currently. Her current living situation is temporary. She's over 14 and wants a stable home. I'm willing and able to be a guardian. Would school policy, district policy, or situations where the child is not related to the guardian be an issue? Would a lawyer be recommended to aid this process?
  • My daughter passed away from cancer 2 years ago. I took over the care of my grandson, who is now 13 years old. My daughter never left a legal document giving me custody or guardianship of my grandson. My grandson's father is not and has never been in his life. We don't even know where he is or how to locate him. How can I get legal guardianship or custody of my 13 year old grandson?
  • can a mother just write a note giving another adult temporary guardian over her 15 almost 16 year old daughter
  • 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 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
  • 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
  • I have had legal guardianship of my grandson since birth.He is now 9 years old. What rights exactly do I have with him? what rights does the biological mother and/or father have, Even though the father is not on the birth certificate.

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