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It’s not something any family wants to think about, but at the same time, if you’re a parent, you need to think about what would happen to your children if both you and your spouse or partner were to pass away.
The difficulty and emotionality that comes with this kind of situation makes people uneasy and unwilling to think about it, and it’s hopefully a situation that will never happen, but regardless it’s important for your children that you’re prepared and you’ve selected their caregiver.
This person might not only become the caregiver for your child or children if their legal parents pass away but also if they become incapacitated for some reason, even if it’s temporary. The following are some tips that can help parents and families as they select a guardian.
Know The Purpose the Guardian Will Serve
During the process of planning your estate and working with a qualified estate lawyer, it’s important to recognize there are two potential types of guardians you might need to name if you’re a parent. The first would be a guardian of the estate and the second would be the actual caregiver of your children. These may be the same person, or they may end up being different. For example, if you have a relative who’s an accountant and would be great at the finances but isn’t necessarily interested in being a parent, the role would be divided between two people.
When doing estate planning, it’s easy to get caught up in the financial and logistic concerns, but it’s also important to think about the personal characteristics of the person you’re considering. For example, would the person be able to take on not only the emotional but also the financial responsibility of caring for your children? Are their values and parenting style similar to your own? Is it something they would even be interested in doing?
While you may think your own parents would be the best guardians for your child, you also have to consider their current ages, and whether or not they’d be a realistic fit in the long-term. If your parents are elderly or approaching that time in their life, they may not be physically able to take on the demands of caring for children. This doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be a good caretaker in many ways, but it can simply be limiting if your parents are older and may face their own health concerns that could make it difficult for them.
Once you’ve gone over the details, and also in many ways followed your heart in terms of who you think would make a good caretaker for your children in the event something were to happen to their parents, you can then start finalizing everything. You can work with either an estate lawyer or a family law attorney to finalize your decisions and make sure you have all the necessary documents in place to make it official. In addition to your actual guardianship paperwork, this is also the time you would also probably set up things like wills and trusts.