July 31, 2015

Things to Consider Before for Naming a Guardian for Your Child

It might be a difficult topic to think about, but once you have a child, you have to think about who you would want to take care of your child in the event you are no longer able to. Though it is tough, naming someone as guardian of your child or children establishes your wishes rather than leaving the decision up to the court. There are quite a few important things to think about when selecting someone to take care of your child.

These are the 7 key factors to consider:

  1. Who can be a guardian: Think about someone you trust, and someone your child knows well. Think about who will provide a stable, loving and caring environment. Also, consider someone who will put your child’s best interests before his or her own.
  2. The number of children: If you have one or two, you may feel confident leaving them with someone you will become guardian of both your children. However, if you have several, the guardian you name may be less likely to take custody for multiple children. Think about whether you want to ensure that all your children stay together or if splitting them up among different caregivers is a better option.
  3. The location of the guardian: Naming a guardian that lives locally can be beneficial to your child to minimize the changes of his or her life if you die unexpectedly. In some cases this may not be an option. Consider whether a caregiver living out of state is something you want to address. You can ask the guardian to move into the state should something happen, but if they decline you may want an alternative choice.
  4. The special needs of your child: If you have a child with special needs, the duties of caring for the child will not end at the age of 18. The guardian needs to serve as long as the child’s special needs remain in effect. Keep this in mind when thinking about a family member or an older person, since they may not be able to commit long term for a special needs child.
  5. If the other biological parent is unfit: Though you may be gone, the other biological parent may be unfit to care for the child. In this case, you want to make sure you explain why the other biological parent is unfit and name a caregiver you feel will have your child’s best interests at heart. The named guardian can then bring an action against the biological parent so that the court can determine with whom the child should stay.
  6. Should the guardian also manage the child’s money: You can choose one guardian to both care for the child and manage the money, but you may opt to choose a second person to manage any funds. Having another person in charge of the child’s money gives him or her power to authorize or reject any expenditures the guardian may try to make. You can also require the caregiver to consult with another designated person before purchases as another way to safeguard your child’s money.
  7. Choosing a married couple as guardian but they become divorced: If you leave your child to a married couple, just be sure to identify which person you would rather leave your child with in the event that the couple is no longer together. You may also leave an alternative guardian listed in the event of the married couple’s divorce.

These considerations are some of the most important things to think about when creating your will or estate plan. The Law Office of Michael Alan Siddons can assist you with deciding the best guardian for your child. Call today for a free consultation at (610) 255-7500.