Many parents have minor children at home and have not yet selected a guardian. Sometimes they put off this critically important task while waiting for the perfect solution to present itself, or sometimes the parents cannot agree on who would be the ideal guardian for the kids.
Here is the one and only solution: Done is better than perfect – especially in this case.
If you do nothing, the choice of who would raise your children if something were to happen to you will be left up to a judge. Judges do the best they can, but they don’t know you, they don’t know what’s important to you, and they don’t know your children. The decisions a judge would make may not at all align with your choices, and that’s not what you want.
In reality, there may never be a perfect solution for you, but there is definitely a solution that is better than your children being raised by someone who you didn’t choose and would not have chosen.
Perhaps you think the way so many parents do, “we still have plenty of time – certainly nothing will happen now.”
Unfortunately, bad things happen – and sometimes they happen to young, vibrant people. People who thought they still had all the time in the world.
Responsible parents protect their children, and that means you must think about the unthinkable.
Fortunately, there is a systematic approach to selecting a guardian for your children that makes it a lot easier:
1. Talk with your spouse or significant other and compile a list of all potential people you would be willing to have raise your children.
At this point, don’t judge anyone on the list or even consider whether they would be willing to serve. Just make a list of all the people who know you and your values very well, who you like and trust and that your children know, like and trust. It can be helpful if you and the other parent make these lists separately and then combine the lists later.
2. Make a list of the values that you want your guardians to have that are most important to you when it comes to raising your children. It can be things like their prior relationship with your children, their education level, and their discipline philosophy or parenting style.
Under no circumstances should you consider the financial resources of the people you are considering; it’s your job to provide enough financial resources for your children. You need to do that through life insurance and financial planning.
3. Rank your values and then compare those values to your list of potential guardians. Put each of those people in order first, second and third.
4. Once you have your short list, check it against these practical considerations:
Does your child know them? Ideally, your child’s guardian will be someone your child already knows and trusts.
Do they live close by? It is usually not ideal to uproot your children from their local community if that can be avoided.
Do they share your values? You will want to choose someone who will likely raise your children with the same values and beliefs that you would.
How old are they? Choosing an elderly person as guardian could mean that your children would lose them, too, and go through another major upheaval and grieving process.
Do they already have a family? If your choice as guardian already has children of their own, would your children blend in well with their family?
Are they willing to take on the responsibility? Hopefully the people you choose would welcome the responsibility, but not everybody does. It is important to have a candid conversation with them before you actually name them as guardian.
5. Document your choices, legally and clearly. We have a proven process for creating a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan for your children that covers not just the long-term care of your children, but also a named guardian for emergency situations so that first responders will never be forced to place your children in child protective services. We create instructions to give to your guardians and your children’s caregivers, and an ID card in your wallet so your plan will operate smoothly if the worst should happen.
Keep in mind that the choice of guardian you make today could change in the future, and you will likely want to update your choice as your life and circumstances change. It’s a good idea to review this process annually.
Make this the year that you put the proper protections in place for your family by calling our office at (612) 206-3701 or filling out our contact form to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk.
Image courtesy of David Castillo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net