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Planning for your family’s future in the event of your passing is about more than deciding who gets what property. If you have young children, you need to ensure that they are well-cared-for, even if you unexpectedly pass away. You can choose who the court should name as legal guardian for your kids upon your passing, but you need to make that choice with due care. Continue reading for a discussion of how to choose a guardian for your kids, and reach out to a seasoned West Palm Beach guardianship and estate planning attorney if you have any questions.
There are a number of different considerations to keep in mind when choosing a potential guardian for your children. Some of these considerations pertain to the nature of your kids, some concern the nature of your guardian, and others concern your legal options when naming potential guardians. At the end of the day, however, it’s about doing what’s best for your children. Some factors to keep in mind pertaining to your children include:
How Many Kids Do You Have? Do you want your kids to stay together? Can your chosen guardian take care of all your kids? You may have a trusted friend or family member who loves your kids but would not have the time or financial resources to take care of more than one child. Your intended guardian might already have kids of their own. It may even make sense to have multiple guardians, with your kids living in separate locations.
Age of Your Kids. The age of your kids will affect the nature of your guardian’s relationship with the children, as well as for how long they will need to continue taking care of your kids before reaching the age of majority.
You need to pick a guardian whom you not only trust personally but also who you know has the capacity to continue raising your children should something unfortunate occur.
Location and Living Situation. Consider where your potential guardian lives and if they could fit additional children without having to move to a bigger house. You’ll also want to consider their geographic location; would living with that guardian mean the children have to move to a new school or even a new state? How will that affect their lives?
Job & Financial Situation. If someone is going to raise your children, they need to be financially stable enough to do so. Raising kids is costly, as you know, and while your chosen guardian may have the best of intentions, if they simply can’t afford the costs, you might want to choose someone else.
Parenting Skills, Religious Beliefs, and Other Parenting Matters. Especially if your kids are still young, if they have a new guardian, that guardian will have a significant impact on their upbringing. Make sure that their parenting skills, parenting style, religious beliefs, and other values are in line with how you want your kids to be raised.
Make Sure They Want the Job. Finally, make sure to have a long, honest conversation with your chosen guardian before you name them in your will. The last thing you want is to pick a guardian who will feel burdened and overwhelmed at the prospect of raising your kids. Choose someone who wants the job and who will be ready to take over should the need arise.
Before naming a guardian in your will, make sure to consult with your estate planning and elder law attorney about your legal options. There may be more legal tools than you realize, and there are important details to include so that all of your bases are covered.
Co-Guardians and Successive Guardians. You do not have to name a single guardian in your will. If you have several kids, you can name different guardians for different kids to ease the burden. Moreover, if you want a married couple (such as your brother and sister-in-law) to both be legal guardians, you’ll need to name them both. It’s also important to name successive guardians in the event that something happens to your first guardian.
State Who You Don’t Want Raising Your Kids. It’s up to you who can and who cannot be named as a guardian of your kids. You may have extended family who you do not want to be responsible for your kids under any circumstances, even if they were to object to your chosen guardian. You might have primary custody over your kids and want to limit the influence of your ex-spouse. You can state in your will that your parents, your siblings, or other family members should not be granted guardianship.
A compassionate and knowledgeable West Palm Beach estate planning attorney can help you and your family plan appropriately for the future for you and your family. If you are in need of a detail-oriented and effective Florida asset protection and elder law attorney, contact the West Palm Beach elder law and estate planning attorneys Shalloway & Shalloway at 561-686-6200.