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How can I Appoint a Guardian for My Children if I Die?

Nobody likes to think about their own mortality, but we all know that death is inevitable. Parents especially need to be concerned about what will happen to their children if they were to suffer an untimely death. While you may make requests for how to handle your assets and belongings with a will, you must also make arrangements to care for your minor children. If you fail to name a guardian, the courts will make the decision based on the current laws. It is best to complete the paperwork ahead of time to name a guardian that you prefer.

Choose a Guardian for Your Children

You may assume that if you pass away, your parents or siblings will automatically take care of your children, but that might not happen. One of the biggest fears as parents is that your child will end up in foster care, away from family. When you choose a guardian for your children you need to consider several factors. Think about who will give your children the same types of values that you would instill. You want to choose a guardian who has the ability to care for children and who will give them a loving home.

Keep in mind these important factors when choosing a guardian:

  • A guardian must be at least 18 years of age
  • The guardian must be able to care for the children and provide for them financially
  • The guardian should be of the same mindset as you and have similar goals
  • The guardian should be able to provide a stable home environment
  • The guardian should keep your children in contact with other family members

It is essential that you discuss your plan with your prospective guardian appointee. You need to make sure that the guardian understands and is in agreement as to the responsibilities that come with guardianship. It is helpful to select a family member and when possible, a person who is of similar age to you and your spouse.

Appointing a Guardian for Your Children

The ideal way to put a guardian appointment in place is by adding it to your will or estate plan. While a verbal agreement may be binding in some cases, it is always best to put your wishes in writing. An experienced will and estate planning attorney will draft a guardianship appointment that will include everything necessary to make sure that it is enforceable. It is important to note that even a written guardian appointment may face challenges in court. Make sure it contains your wishes and desires and that you get the document notarized. Let your relatives know about your appointment so there will be less confusion should the situation arise. While you can implement a separate guardian appointment document, it is helpful to make it part of your will. This will include it into the probate process.

If you are a parent, it is critical to have a guardianship plan in place. Contact our experienced lawyers at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. for all your legal needs.

Published April 10, 2020
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