Selecting a Guardian for Your Minor ChildrenAccording 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?
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.
Contributing Attorney: Allison Kierman is an attorney at Kierman Law, PLC where she provides assistance with estate planning and business consulting.
My daughter is 16 years old & is mentally handicapped. I want to get guardianship. What do I need to do first?
My 22 year old daughter was arrested along with her boyfriend. They have a 2 year old child together. They were aressted for battery in the 3rd degree. My daughter spent 5 days in jail & the boyfriend spent 38 days in jail. With them being arrested, my grandchild how no where to go but with me. She is still with me & I don't know where the parents are. I have talked to my daughter a couple of times sense april. I asked her to give custody to me sense she Iis homeless & can not take care of her child. She refused. She did sign a notery so I could be able to take my grandaughter to the doctor
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'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?
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?
My husband and I gave Temp Guardianship and then Guardianship after 2 years to his mother. The years were from 2000-2004 that she had our children. Since June 2004 the children have lived with me. That was Almost 10 years ago. Almost 5 years ago she passed away. At least 7 of the 10 years she has not complied with the court yearly. I want to know since my childrens father and I consented to the guardianship in the first place. Once his mom passed,would the children fall back to us? If not I need to know what papers I should file to say I'm back and I have the children? thanks so much
Have guardianship over nieces just wondering if it's ok to move out of state with them
Can I get help from Indian Reservation? The mother is full indain and I have custody.
My sister is pregnant and she has a two minor children already that is out of the home. Her daughter has been adopted by the fathers parents an her son has been adopted by another family and she is pregnant yet again and has got into alot of trouble i want to get custody of the baby but i dont know if i should obtain Power of Attorey or should i go for Guardianship or Legal Custody I need help bad and soon!!!!!!
i need help trying to get started on taking guardianship of my girlfriend. shes living with me and another family i just recently got an apartment i wanted her to move in with me but shes 17 and can't be on the lease. what can i do to try and get temporary guardianship until she turns 18 in july
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