Financial matters are a critical component to every estate plan, but there are numerous non-financial decisions that should also be made. If you are the parent of minor children, it’s time to think about nominating a guardian.
If you and your children’s other parent both pass away while your children are still minors, the court will appoint a guardian. The guardian will have custody of your children, as well as the right to make decisions on their behalf. The person you nominate is an indication to the court as to who you believe is best able to serve. While it’s not guaranteed that the court will appoint your nominee, your choice is given great weight.
In most cases, people appoint one guardian for all of their children, though it is possible to have different guardians for each child. You might also choose to have a married couple serve as guardians, or to have two unmarried people serve as co-guardians. You would also be wise to appoint an alternate guardian in case your first choice cannot take on the role.
What happens if I don’t name one?
If you do not name a guardian for your children, the courts will still appoint one; however, that decision is often made in the midst of family squabbles for priority. Your failure to nominate your preference can cause rifts between people who should be working together in the best interests of your children. The last thing grieving children need is for the adults in their lives to be fighting.
Talking about your plans
Nominating a guardian in your estate plan can give you and your family great peace of mind in knowing your children will be taken care of. However, you will also want to discuss your decision with the intended guardian to confirm he or she is willing and able to take on such a critical role.
You can also discuss any matters related to guardianships with an attorney. Someone with experience in estate planning can be a valuable resource in helping you cover your bases and avoid costly mistakes.