Naming a guardian for your children in your will is one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent. Though it can be difficult to think about what would happen if you die, putting your wishes in your will lets you decide where your children will live and who will raise them if you cannot.
Considering all the relevant factors can guide you to an estate planning choice that protects your children’s well-being.
Relationship and familiarity
Choose someone who already has a strong bond with your children. Whether you select a family member, a close friend or a trusted neighbor, your children should feel comfortable and safe with the person you choose as their guardian. This familiarity can provide stability and emotional support during a challenging time.
Parenting style and values
Ensure that the potential guardian’s beliefs and values align with your own. Think about their views on education, discipline, religion and other aspects of raising children. Compatibility in these areas will help maintain continuity in your children’s lives.
Your chosen guardian should have the financial means to provide for your children’s needs, including housing, food, education and healthcare. Discuss this aspect with the potential guardian in advance to ensure they are willing and able to assume this responsibility. According to CBS News, it can cost an average of nearly $240,000 to raise a child to age 18.
Location and living situation
Ideally, the guardian should live in an area that allows your children to maintain their familiar routines and social connections. They would be able to stay in the same school with the same friends and activities.
Health and age
It is also essential to think about the guardian’s long-term stability in terms of age and health status. The person should be physically and mentally capable of caring for your children throughout their childhood and into adulthood.
Document the guardian’s consent in your will to avoid any potential legal issues. You may also want to name a backup guardian in case your primary choice is unable or unwilling to take on the role when the time comes.