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3 steps for naming a trusted guardian for minor children

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Guardianship

New parents are often acutely aware of how vulnerable their children are. An infant needs a parent for everything from nutrition to hygiene. Even grade-school children are quite dependent on their caregivers.

A minor child is in a very vulnerable position if their parents die or become incapable of meeting their basic needs. Estate planning is an important move for most new parents, as it allows them to protect their children even when they cannot physically meet their needs. The person that a parent names as the guardian to take over their responsibilities could have a major impact on the health and happiness of a child after unexpected changes to their family.

Identifying needs and challenges

The first step in the guardian candidate selection process typically involves a careful analysis of family circumstances. The number of children in the household, the degree of support that they require and other personal factors influence what kind of care someone needs from a guardian. The only way to select appropriate candidates is to first determine what responsibilities a guardian must fulfill.

Evaluating trusted individuals

After a parent knows what they likely require from a guardian, they can begin developing a list of prospective guardians. Siblings, family friends and even neighbors could potentially move into a guardian position. Someone’s age, health, living arrangements and family circumstances can all influence whether or not they may be a good candidate. Parents often need to choose two or three people who they believe are capable and potentially willing to serve as guardians if anything were to happen to them.

Discussing the selection with candidates

The last step in the process before adding someone’s name to estate planning paperwork is a discussion with each of those candidates. Guardianship is a major responsibility, and someone might have personal issues they have not disclosed to the public that might make them a less-than-ideal candidate. For example, they might have health challenges that they have kept largely private. Parents need to discuss someone’s potential service as a guardian before they arrive at their final candidate and potentially an alternate to include in their documents.

Adding a guardian to a will while estate planning helps to ensure that children have the right support if anything ever happens to their parents. Adults who address the vulnerability of their dependent family members can create more effective estate plans by doing so.