As readers of this blog know, estate planning is vitally important to both you and those you leave behind when you pass. This is of particular importance to you minor and disabled children because you will need to incorporate a guardianship. Otherwise, their care will be controlled by the state government of Indiana.
How do you choose the right guardian?
In our state, as in most others, naming a guardian in your estate plan will allow another the legal authority to have control and custody of your children. They will make all decisions for your child.
Though, you can bifurcate the health and welfare from the economic decisions, if you like. Alternatively, you could use a trust to help with economic decisions, if you are worried about how your guardian will spend the funds you leave behind for your children.
Choosing a guardian
To be clear, choosing a guardian is not easy, and it will take time. You should devote time and care to the effort because this person/family could take over for you as a parent. There are several factors to use in your decision.
Relationship with your child
First, think about the potential guardian’s relationship with your child. Remember, when they take over as a parent, your child has just lost their parent. This is an incredibly vulnerable time, and they will need someone they know and love. If possible, the guardian should be that person.
Second, look at the potential guardian’s values generally, family values, parenting style, religious and personal beliefs and lifestyle. Do they align with your values and style? Will they raise your child in a way you agree with and want?
Third, can they afford your kids? This may not be important if your estate plan has the assets and funds to support your kids, but if not, this becomes a vital issue. Though, a similar financial inquiry is the financial stability and knowledge of the guardian. Are they good with money? Would they use the money you leave behind responsibly? You can alleviate some of these issues by using two guardians or a trust.
Physical and mental suitability
Kids are a challenge. Can your potential guardian handle your kid. How is their physical and mental health? How old are they? Maybe, you want to name your mom, but realistically, her age may become a problem. This is where thinking about alternative guardians is key.
Availability and willingness
Finally, once you have your short list of potential guardians and alternative guardians, talk to them. Gauge both their willingness to take on the responsibility. Guardianship should never be a secret. Each potential guardian should know and accept the potential responsibility.