The holiday season is traditionally a time of year to reconnect with extended family. Many American films have made comedy and drama about the personality conflicts that arise at the big family dinner table.
We get updates on our family members’ health, careers, relationships and goals. If you haven’t yet chosen guardians for your minor children, the holidays could be the ideal time to evaluate some potential candidates.
Why do I need to name guardians for my minor children?
If a family tragedy left you unable to care for your children, an adult would have to take custody of them and raise them on your behalf. This person can be chosen in one of two ways – either by the Court or by the parents during their lifetimes.
If you do not name guardians for your children, the Court will evaluate their closest blood relatives and decide who is most capable of taking on the responsibility. Although the Court does its best, considering financial stability and parenting experience, it is not able to intimately know your family dynamics. You are the best qualified person to make the determination, through guardian nomination.
What would a guardian do?
A legal guardian would take physical custody of your children and raise them as their own, making all necessary financial, medical and educational decisions until their 18th birthdays.
How do I choose a guardian?
Legally nominating a guardian is as easy as signing and witnessing a few properly-drafted documents. However, choosing who to nominate can be infinitely more difficult. Keeping your eyes open during holiday gatherings can help to inform your decision.
- Notice how your extended family members interrelate with your children.
- For family members of your same generation, you may get to see how they deal with parenting challenges applicable to your own nuclear family.
- Observe who comes to you for advice about interacting with your children, instead of relying on their own instincts or ways of doing things. When you nominate guardians as part of a larger estate plan, you should have the opportunity to describe in detail your hopes and expectations for a potential guardian, and it would be good to know who would be open to following your instructions.
All LifeLadder Estate Plans include a Guardians+ Plan to handle your guardian nomination. A Guardians+ Plan is a set of legal documents and supporting information that, together with your comprehensive estate plan, provide the best available guarantee that your children will be cared for according to your wishes if you were no longer able to care for them.
Get started below by downloading our Legal Guardian Nomination Guide.