Deciding who will get which assets when you die is clearly an important aspect of creating your Last Will and Testament; however, deciding whom to appoint as guardian for your minor children is infinitely more important. Given the importance of this decision, you may wish to consider the following factors when making your decision:
- Relationship—does your child already have an established relationship with the intended guardian? While not always possible, it is usually best to choose someone that your child already knows and with whom he or she feels comfortable.
- Proximity—again, when possible try to choose someone who lives near you or who is willing to move if the need arises. Tearing a child away from his or her home, friends and school right after losing a parent is generally not advisable if there is another option.
- Ability—does the potential guardian have the emotional and physical ability to do the job? Does he or she have the financial means to raise a child? Although your estate plan may be able to help with the financial aspect, your guardian should otherwise be able to handle the position.
- Consent—don’t just assume that someone would take your child if necessary. Sit down and discuss the position.
- Philosophy—does your guardian share the same parenting philosophy that you have? This is usually even more important with an older child because an older child is not as able to adapt to a new style of parenting – particularly when he or she is grieving the loss of a parent.