What’s Important: Choosing a Guardian for Your Children
It’s hard to imagine someone else raising your precious baby, but if something were to happen to you and your partner, you’d want to be sure your little one was in the very best hands. That’s why parents should pick a legal guardian — the person who’d raise their child if both parents die before the child turns 18. Don’t feel you’re up to the task? Failing to pick a guardian means the courts will choose one for you — and it may not be the person you think is best.
Don’t automatically go for a married couple. Many parents tend to gravitate toward a married couple when they pick a guardian for their child. After all, a married pair seems more stable than a swinging single. But think carefully: divorce happens to the best of couples, so you may want to pick one person instead. Or decide ahead of time which person would raise your child in case the couple splits up. Also think about the couple’s children: Will your child fit into the family, or get lost in the shuffle?
Consider values. Do you want your child to be raised in a certain religion? Then faith may be important when it comes time to pick a guardian. You might also want to consider your potential guardian’s morals, educational views, and parenting style.
Take age and health into account. You may have your heart set on selecting your parents (grandparents can make excellent guardians), but they may be too old to run around after your toddler (or won’t be able to handle the demands of a teen). One option to consider: maybe an older child can be an excellent guardian for a younger sibling.
Figure in finance and family factors. Does your potential guardian own a home, have a good job, or work in a field that requires lots of travel? These are all important factors to consider. How close does your guardian live to you? Will you be uprooting your children from the community and friends? How well do your possible guardians get along with your parents, in-laws, or other relatives? You may think your child could live with your sister on the other side of the country, but if she’s a free spirit when it comes to her career, you may want to consider someone a little steadier.
Split the task. Some parents ask their child’s guardian to also handle the finances and their child’s inheritance. After all, it’s tempting to have the same person take care of both jobs. But if your guardian doesn’t have a good head for money, you’ll need to find a second person for this task. Maybe one of the grandparents can be the trustee to managing the money, while your favorite cousin can raise your child. Whomever you choose as a tandem, they should be able to communicate and get along for the best interest of your children.
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