Once you become a parent, you are officially responsible for your child’s life. You need to feed them, make sure they receive adequate health care and help them learn about the world. Most parents will enjoy years of involvement with their children, but some parents won’t be there to see their children become adults.
It is impossible to predict when an accident or sudden medical event might take you away from your children. Not only would they have to grieve your loss, but they could also be left vulnerable. Creating an estate plan and naming a guardian for them may be one of the most important ways for you to protect your children in case anything happens to you. How do you name a guardian?
Think about the right candidates for this important position
Anyone from a lifelong friend to a sibling or cousin could be an ideal guardian for your children. Compassionate demeanors, responsible behavior and an existing relationship with the children are all important credentials for the right guardian.
You want someone who can assume the responsibilities of parenting and help your children through an emotionally difficult time. Creating a list of several people who would do well in this role will be important as you move on to the second step.
Discuss your intentions with each potential guardian
Carefully choosing a guardian for your children will do nothing to protect them if that person declines the responsibility after your death. You have to know that the person you name as guardian will assume that role.
Talking with someone about your intentions to name them as your children’s guardian can help you finalize your decision about the best candidate. You can potentially even name a second person as an alternate in case something unexpected happens.
Create or update your will
There are many different estate planning documents, each with its own uses, but a will is usually the document people use to name a guardian for their children. You made need to draft your first-ever will or update an existing one to add guardianship information and your children as beneficiaries for your assets. Even after you name a guardian, you may need to eventually update the person you designate if there are changes in your family relationships or if someone dies.
Thinking about the needs of your children while estate planning can help you protect them with the documents you create.