If you are like me, one of the most important reasons for estate planning is to ensure proper provisions are made for your young children.
If you have minor children, dealing with all the issues involved can seem overwhelming. I understand, but the alternative is to risk making no provisions and having someone else make those decisions for you!
When selecting a guardian, consider:
Would your parents really have the energy to raise more children?
Can you select a sibling or friend?
Do you have a sibling you absolutely would NOT want?
Will the guardian be able to raise your child like one of their own?
Can one person raise all of your children? Should it be a couple?
Do you want to name more than one potential alternate? (yes… you do.)
Does your primary choice live in another city or state? Would you want them to move to where your kids are? (entice them….)
Are you comfortable with the guardian’s parental style and moral beliefs?
Have you talked to your selected guardian?
Once you’ve settled on a guardian, discuss your decision with that person to make sure he or she is willing to take on the responsibility. You should name as many contingent guardians as you can muster, in case your first choice is unable to serve.
Then – consider money:
Are there adequate financial arrangements so that the child’s presence will not be resented? Ie - Term Life Insurance!
Should the person who has physical custody also handle their finances? Quick answer, No!
You may, and in my opinion should, name one person or couple to be your child’s guardian and name another person to handle the child’s finances (called a conservator, custodian, or Trustee).
Also, you can decide if trusts should be set up and how money should be distributed when your children reach adulthood. I am a huge fan of this strategy. I have had too many conversations with young twenty-somethings that have received a life insurance policy and spent that money trying to cover up the loss of a parent.
Finally, just because you’ve previously selected a guardian doesn’t mean that person is still the best choice. As your children grow, review your guardian choice every couple of years.