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

  • How many kids can you put in a room
  • COULD you please tell me the first steps in removing guardianship from the grand parents who have my son. I would appreciate this very much
  • MY FRIEND NEEDS SUPPORT RAISING HER SON. THE FATHER IS NOT AROUND. THE TODDLER'S MOM ISN'T STABLE AND I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE OVER OF HIS MEDICAL. WHAT INITIAL STEPS MUST I TAKE.
  • 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
  • I have had my grandson since March 28,2007 right when my daughter got out of the hospital from having him. I have papers wrote up by her signed by her and myself saying he lives with me it is notarized as well. He is on my insurance i do all his school paperwork. She picked him up for a visit he didn't want to go but she told him if he don't she will have the cop's put me in jail!!! Now she is refusing to give him back to me!!! Is there anything i can do to bring him home right now!!!!
  • My mother was deported and left behind my 15 year old brother and 16 year old cousin. How can I get legal Guardianship of both of them?
  • I am the legal guardian of a 6 year old child,i need to know how i go about to become his permanent guardian?
  • I am currently making plans for my child to move with my sister in another state. I currently have sole custody. I do not wish her to have custody, but she needs to be able to enroll him in school, take him to the doctor, etc. What do I need to do or what forms, if any, do I need to submit to the court for this to happen?
  • my wife separated from me 4 years ago. she took my son and my stepdaughter with her. I am wondering what rights I may have to see my son and if I have any rights to see my stepdaughter that I raised for five years.
  • 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.

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