One of the most common catalysts to individuals thinking about creating an estate plan is parenthood. Once a child comes into the picture, he or she becomes the centerpiece in a parent's life. Therefore most parents want to make sure their child is protected and cared for if something unfortunately happens to them.
Naming a guardian can be the most difficult decision for a parent to make when creating an estate plan. First, no one likes to think about their own death and secondly, it is hard to imagine someone other than you and your spouse/partner raising your child. Married couples tend to have difficulty in choosing whose side of the family should be named guardian. Then deciding who you trust to raise your child(ren), and finally determining if they would even want to raise your children.
One helpful exercise when discussing guardians is to go through these three steps:
Step 1: Create a short list of individuals or couples who you (and your spouse/partner) would be willing to have raise your children if you were not able to do so.
Step 2: Consider how important each of the following items are to you:
- Parenting philosophy
- Existing relationship with your kids and other family members
- Religious beliefs
- Discipline styles
- Personal values
- Keeping children together
Step 3: Rank the characteristics and the individuals that you have listed according to your priorities.
You should also be aware that a living biological parent will usually always be named guardian unless they have waived their parental rights.
Finally, be open with the guardians you choose and discuss naming them as a potential Guardian. While they will likely consider the nomination as an honor, they may alternatively view the role as too much responsibility. If someone does decline be understanding, it is best to be aware of this before you name them as guardian. You can always update your estate plan throughout your life and the guardian you nominate now may change as your child grows.
If you have any questions about preparing an estate plan, please feel free to contact Glick and Trostin, LLC at 312-346-8258.
Disclaimer: The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between any attorney and any other person, group or entity. No representations or warranties whatsoever, express or implied are given as to the accuracy or applicability of the information contained herein. No one should rely upon the information contained herein as constituting legal advice. The information may be modified or rendered incorrect by future legislative or judicial developments and may not be applicable to any individual reader's facts and circumstances.