One of the crucial decisions in life if you have minor children is to make arrangements for the guardian or guardians who will finish raising your children if you and your spouse should happen to die in a common accident or weather disaster.
A will likely find that a lot of thought and planning have to go into that decision, and you need to give it a great deal of consideration.
The first step is to have a complete discussion with the person or people that you have considered for this very important family event. There are a multitude of factors that enter into this designation, some of which are the following:
* Does the person really want that responsibility? Will there be passion in performing the “duties” and the financial ability to do so?
* Does that person have the same parenting methods, discipline ideas, lifestyle, finances, religious beliefs, medical decisions, motivation, and future plans for the children's education that you do?
* Although you may think your parents are the perfect answer, would they be capable of assuming that role if many years go by and they have medical or age related restrictions if the time ever came?
* Where is the guardian located? Would it mean an upsetting move for your children into a totally new area without friends? Will they perhaps be put into a large family and are used to a small one?
Guardianship provisions are an integral part of your estate planning, as follows:
* You must deliberately and carefully spell out the guardian or guardians that you have chosen in your will or living trust or in a proper separate document where parents can designate a guardian. A qualified family law or estate attorney will provide all the necessary language and the required documents for your state and will even ensure that future children born or adopted would be included in the guardianship designation. The legal guardianship of minor children is regulated by each individual state, which has its own unique requirements, rules, and obligations.
* It is considered good practice to name at least one alternate guardian in case circumstances change.
* You may think that if you do not specify a guardian, one of the children's closest relatives will be appointed. Realize that the person may not want or is not prepared to take on that role, and it would be up to the court to decide who to appoint. You might not agree with that decision.
* In the future, whenever you review your will to see if it is up-to-date, remember to also review your guardian choice to make sure it still is appropriate.
How do guardianships and adoptions differ?
A guardianship of minors is a legal relationship between the guardian and a minor child where the guardian has certain obligations and rights regarding that child. A guardianship does not sever the legal relationship between the biological parents and the child, and they co-exist.
An adoption permanently alters the legal relationship between biological parents and a child. The adopted parents become the legal parents, and the biological parents give up their parental rights and obligations.
You may hope and pray that the day will never come when a guardianship would be necessary, but you will have peace of mind if you have provided for your children in the event that such an event ever occurs.