It can be difficult and upsetting to imagine a scenario in which you are no longer living to care for your young children. Nevertheless, you have to take this into consideration when choosing someone to serve as a guardian for your children in the event of your death. Otherwise, your children face the frightening scenario of having their status up in the air until the court makes a decision.
U.S. News and World Report describes some considerations you need to make when choosing a guardian for your children.
1. Godparents do not have legal recognition
Your children’s godparents may have a relationship with them, but it is not one that the law recognizes. Godparents do not become guardians by default, so if you want your child’s godparents to also be guardians, you have to name them in a legal document, such as your will.
2. There is a difference between guardian of the person and guardian of the estate
A guardian of the person is someone who takes on the responsibility of your children’s day-to-day care in your stead in the event of your death. A guardian of the estate is someone who takes care of your children’s money until they are old enough to take responsibility for it. Depending on your financial situation, your children may not need a guardian of the estate, but every minor child needs a guardian of the person if their parents are not able to care for them. You can name the same person to both roles, but you do not have to.
3. You can name alternate guardians, just in case
A lot can happen between the time that you name a guardian and the time that you die. If the guardian’s situation changes during that time, he or she may no longer be able to serve. Therefore, it is a good idea to name an alternate guardian in case your first choice is unavailable when and if the time comes.
Before you name anyone as either a guardian or an alternate, you should talk to that person first and make sure he or she is willing to take on the responsibility of taking care of your children if need be.