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If you are a parent, there is probably no one who loves your children more than you do. You know what they want, what they need, and how to take care of them. No one can take your place.

However, there may be a time when you cannot provide the care your children need. Should this situation arise, you want to be sure that your children are cared for by someone you trust to love and guide them as much as possible. You can do this by nominating a guardian.

Why should I select a guardian?

Nominating a guardian tells the courts that you want a specific person to take on the legal rights and responsibilities for your minor child if you are incapacitated or pass away. This includes making medical decisions, giving them guidance, ensuring they get a good education, and providing them with food and shelter. On the flip side, nominating a guardian can also prevent the courts from appointing someone you might not trust or want in this role.

Further, nominating a guardian can give you, your children, and the rest of your family considerable peace of mind and avoid internal fighting.

While a nomination is not an absolute assurance that your wish will result in a court ordered appointment (e.g., your nominee may become unable to serve), your wishes are given great weight by the court.

Whom should I appoint?

Deciding whom you wish to nominate as a guardian for your children is an intensely personal decision. However, there are many suggestions for whom you might choose. In general, a guardian should be someone who/whom:

  • You trust
  • Your children know
  • Has the same (or similar) ideals and values that you have
  • Is willing to take on the responsibility
  • Is a capable care provider
  • Lives close and has the space, or is willing to relocate

How do I protect my wishes?

Once you decide whom you want to be the guardian of your child, you should discuss your decision with that person (or people, if you select co-guardians). Doing this gives them the opportunity to ask questions or decline the nomination if they do not want to, or cannot take on the role.

You will also want to include your guardianship wishes in your estate plan.

Nominating a guardian can provide critical protection in the long run. For many parents, taking care of it sooner, rather than later, provides great relief.