When you hear the term, guardian, you may think of gladiators or comic book or movie heroes. However, if you are a parent, a guardian is an essential part of your estate plan.
Why is it essential?
Indianapolis metro area parents know they need an estate plan to make sure their kids’ financial needs are handled. But, who will care for them if you pass? If you think your mom will take over, unless she is named as your children’s guardian, and unless an Indiana family law judge names your mother as their guardian, your kids could become wards of the state.
And, if you have several family members who want custody, this could force your children into state custody until the family court battle concludes. This is why naming a guardian in your Marion County estate plan now is essential.
What do they do?
When you pass, the guardian steps into your shoes. They take on all of the responsibilities of a parent to care, clothe, house, educate, etc., your Hamilton County children. You can set up your estate to help fund their care as well, but ultimately, regardless of whether you do that or not, once they accept the guardianship responsibilities, care and custody of your children are now their responsibility.
How to choose?
First, you are not just choosing one guardian. You should select several backup guardians in case something happens to them or they elect not to accept the responsibility. Even if you clear it with them before, no one knows how they will react when the time comes. They may hope for the best now, but when it happens, they may decide that they are not comfortable with the responsibility.
Second, how you choose and who you choose is a personal decision. However, you should focus on those friends and family that already have a relationship with your children. And, focus on those people who share your parenting style and goals. Remember, your kids will be dealing with your death during this time, and you want the guardian to help the recovery, not make that time worse.
Estate planning help
If you do not have an estate plan, and you have kids, you need one now. However, if you have one, and you do not have a guardian named, you also need to update that now.