Choosing Guardians for Your Children
One of the most difficult decisions for many of my clients with minor children is choosing who their guardians will be. After all, guardians will be responsible for most of the decisions of their children, if something should happen to both parents. Typically, naming a guardian is done in a will. Upon your death, the person you named in the will doesn’t actually become legal guardian until approved by a court. Therefore, your choice isn’t automatically binding. However, if no one contests your choice of guardian, the court will confirm the guardian you chose.
It’s important when you are choosing a guardian for your children that you talk it over with the person and get their complete approval – that is not something that should be a surprise. You should also name alternate guardians as well. When choosing a guardian, pick someone who would raise your children in the manner in which you wish them to be raised. You may want to choose someone who’s familiar with your extended family, as that could help them maintain close relationships with your extended family. You may have a perfect candidate in mind, but there’s one problem – they aren’t very good with money. Don’t let that stop you from naming them as guardian. You can choose someone else as trustee to manage the kids’ money.
Many people choose to name a married couple as co-guardians. That is fine, but you may wish to specify in your will what happens if they are no longer married at the time of your death. You may wish for only one of them to serve, or you may want your children raised by a different married couple instead. Make sure your wishes are spelled out in your will.
These decisions are never easy, but an experienced estate planning attorney can help you talk through them and reach a decision that’s best for your family. If you are in the metro Atlanta area, call Sarah White, Marietta estate planning attorney, at 678-453-6490.