Why You Should Immediately Appoint a Guardian for Your Children

For many young couples with children and paid bills, the common answer to estate planning is “what property?” However, an important aspect of expression of will that couples usually overlook is the choice of a guardian. Failure to choose a guardian could mean chaos after your death, with a potential scenario for placing your child in a foster home. Here’s what to consider.

Why is it important to name a guardian for your child

Having a will is already a good idea as it allows you to create trust accounts, name beneficiaries, provide legally binding instructions in case you become incapacitated, and organize a funeral (read this Lifehacker story to learn more about estate planning).

For a young family, naming a guardian is another overlooked reason why you need to make a will. In the event that you and your spouse die together without a guardian named in the will, the guardian will be chosen by the state . In the worst case, when you have no close relatives or none of your family members can take your child, the court will have no choice but to send them to foster families until a permanent guardian is found.

Of course, the judge will gather as much information as possible about your children and family circumstances and will try to make the right decision. But the judge will not work with any deep knowledge of who you know or which of your relatives will be good guardians, which means they can choose one of the last people you could choose to care for your child.

Why people avoid estate planning

Less than one-third of Americans have free will, and the number has been declining in recent years, according to a Caring.com poll , but 60% still believe real estate planning is important. Part of this contradiction can be explained by how unpleasant planning your own death can be. It’s human nature to avoid things that make us uncomfortable, and creating will forces you to make difficult decisions that could affect your child’s future.

Appointment of a guardian is an emotional decision that can be the first challenge in a young couple’s marriage. Parents often have different opinions about what is best for their child’s future. As Jill Schlesinger explains on her Jill on Money podcast :

“One of the worst fights I’ve ever seen as a financial manager is a fight between a couple who just turned into ‘your brother is an idiot, your sister is like that’ and it was a fight and doors slammed. These are very sensitive questions. These problems evoke emotions. However, if you die without specifying who will be the guardian, the state will make that decision for you. “

How to choose the right guardian

Couples should try to find common ground by agreeing on the set of criteria they seek in foster care. This could include:

  • Their willingness to be a guardian.
  • Their financial situation.
  • Where can a child live.
  • Values, religion, or political beliefs of the potential guardian.
  • Their parenting skills.
  • Their age and health.

From there, your next steps are to make a decision, get the consent of your chosen guardian, write it all down, and then proceed to create a will or trust. The safest option is to go to a professional property planner, but you can also use the online DIY tools, just make sure you understand their limitations first .

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