When Considering Child Guardianship, These Are the Things to Consider
GUARDIANSHIP of Minor Children…
Considering what could happen to your minor children if you and the other parent aren’t there is painful and difficult. However, this is a necessary component of good parenting. Leaving these things to chance could be the most devastating thing to happen to a child – after losing you. Why leave it to chance?
Naming a couple to act as guardians and not indicating what should happen if the couple divorces, breaks up, or if one of the partners dies may mean your kids could end up in the care of someone you wouldn't really want.
Failing to name enough alternates to serve if your first choice cannot serve may also mean your kids could end up in the care of someone you wouldn't really want.
Only considering the financial resources of potential guardians when deciding who should raise your children may be a huge mistake. Your guardians do not have to also be financial decision makers for your kids. Your guardians are the people who will be in charge of your kids' emotional, spiritual and physical well-being, not necessarily their money. It’s your responsibility to leave enough money behind to take care of your kids either through savings or life insurance and you can name someone other than your guardians to take care of that money if the best choice guardians are not “good with money” people.
If you do not provide for someone to take care of the money you are leaving behind, your money could go outright to your kids' at 18 – unprotected! Very few, if any, 18 year olds are capable of handling large sums of money.
If you only name long-term care guardians and do not make any legal arrangements for the immediate term care of your kids if something happens to you may means your kids could be taken into the arms of strangers (child protective services) until the authorities figure out what to do.
Failing to exclude anyone who might challenge your decisions about what you want or who you know you would never want raising your kids is a huge mistake. Often, people who “look good on paper” are not the people we want raising our kids. Don’t leave it to chance.
Part of Being a Good Parent Is Making Difficult Decisions. Planning Ahead Is Crucial.
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This article about guardianship of minor children, by Michigan estate planning and elder law attorney Nicole Wipp and the Family and Aging Law Center, is not legal advice. It is for informational purposes only. For legal advice on your situation, consult with a qualified elder law attorney.