If you have minor children it is crucial to name a guardian for them in your will. Here are several important things to consider when choosing a guardian.
Every fall as the air sharpens in anticipation of the impending winter and the leaves slowly turn to crimson, my mind wanders back to one fateful day 8 years ago yesterday. October 16, 2008. A day permanently etched on the surface of my mind. A life-changing day.
Little Amy’s Story
That morning, Little Amy, who had been attending our Connect Group with her father, awoke to find her mom “sleeping” and her dad lying on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood. Five days before her sixth birthday she woke up to find herself orphaned.
She told me the story herself the next day. I spent 9 of the hardest hours of my life taking care of her while her new guardian wrapped up all of the legal matters. Her father’s family was in Canada and unable to leave and her mother’s siblings were all too young to take her on, so she was given to her mom’s step-father that she barely even knew and his new wife. She was taken across the country to live with a family of no blood relation to her.
Some of her parents’ close friends were distraught. “It’s not right,” they said. “There’s no way her mom would want it to happen this way!” However, it was too late. Her parents had no will and no way of making their wishes known. So, the courts got to decide.
Name A Guardian In Your Will
Many people do not like to think or talk about death. It’s as if people think that acknowledging it will encourage it to come more quickly. But death is a reality of life. When we die we leave behind our loved ones. If we truly love them, we need to have the foresight to prepare for them to be taken care of even after we are gone.
If you have minor children, one of the most important things you can do for them is to name their guardian in your will. They are your children. You love them more than anyone else on earth. You should be the one to decide who will raise them in the event of your death. If you don’t, a stranger on a judge’s bench will.
As parents, we do so much for our children to try to ensure a better future. Tutors, braces, Christian school, etc. But what happens if we die? Isn’t it more critical to designate an appropriate person to raise our children than it is to straighten their teeth?
How To Choose A Guardian
There are several things you should consider when choosing a guardian:
Age & Health
Many people immediately think of their children’s grandparents to be guardians. But can they handle it physically? Emotionally? If you have a 2-year-old, will your parents be able to manage a teenager 15 years from now?
Personal & Religious Values
The guardian you choose will be the person influencing the morals and values that your child develops. Is your chosen guardian the kind of person that you want your child to become? Do you want your child to believe what they believe? This is a very difficult one for many of us because we are forced to choose between biological family and spiritual family.
Take into consideration where your chosen guardian lives. For younger children, it may not make a big difference, but for teenagers, it can be devastating to have to leave their town, school, and friends.
Keeping Children Together & Coguardians
If you want to keep your children together you should state it explicitly in your will. The courts will not assume that what you request for one child is what you want for all of them. Also, make sure to name every guardian. If you want your brother and sister-in-law to both be guardians, you have to name both of them. Just naming your brother does not imply his wife as well.
Make Your Wishes Known
Make sure that you discuss your choice with the guardian. Being named in your will should not be a surprise for them. Sit down with them and tell them why you want them to raise your children. Ask them if they are willing and if they have any concerns. Let them know of any special requests you may have.
Don’t worry. Chances are you will live to see your children’s children born and the guardianship in your will shall be a moot point. But there’s no guarantee. Anything can happen and it’s best to be prepared. Just ask Little Amy.
Now it’s your turn. Please tell me in the comments:
If you have a guardian named for your children, how did you come to your decision? If not, what is keeping you from choosing someone? Do you have an experience to share about the effects of dying without a will?