It is important for parents to establish guardianship for their minor children. Although it is difficult to think about, if something happens to you and your child’s other parent, you should ensure that someone you trust will take care of your child. Naming a guardian in your will or testament greatly increases your chances of having the person you select raise your child in your absence.
Factors to Consider When Selecting a Guardian
Although it is not guaranteed that the person you choose will be appointed guardian, judges will typically honor your decision. If you do not name a guardian in your will, the judge will appoint a guardian he or she feels is best for the child. Therefore, it is in you and your child’s best interest to carefully choose a guardian and name that person in your will. The following are factors to consider when selecting a guardian:
- Age: How old is the chosen guardian? Older candidates, such as grandparents, may not be able to care for young children, especially if they have health problems. On the other hand, someone younger, like an adult sibling, may want to focus on establishing their career.
- Family culture/dynamics: Is your child comfortable with the chosen guardian and their children, spouse, and other family members in the house? Make sure your child will be able to get along with them and be accepted and consider choosing someone who already has an established relationship with your child.
- Finances: Can the chosen guardian afford to raise your child? If you have otherwise provided for your child through estate planning, you may want to consider someone other than the person who will handle the child’s inheritance to be the guardian.
- Location: Where does the chosen guardian live? Your child may find it difficult to deal with moving to a new place and being away from their school, friends, and other family members.
- Parenting style: How will the chosen guardian raise your child? You may be able to determine if they have a similar parenting style to your own by observing how they interact with and discipline their own children, or by asking them questions.
- Religious beliefs/values: What are the chosen guardian’s religious beliefs and values? Parents often wish for their children to be raised in a manner that coincides with their personal beliefs.
- Siblings: Does your child have other siblings? If you want to keep the children together, be sure to specify that in your will. Ask the chosen guardian if they can take on the responsibility of caring for all the children.
- Special needs: If your child has special needs, make sure the chosen guardian is willing and able to accommodate them. He or she should be financially, physically, and emotionally equipped.
- Willingness of the potential guardian: Do not assume that the person you choose is willing to be a guardian. Make sure to ask them about their feelings on the matter in advance.
Chester County Wills and Estates Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Parents Establish Legal Guardians for Their Children
Contact an experienced Chester County wills and estates lawyer at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. to discuss your will. We can help you establish a guardian for your children, so they are protected in case of unforeseeable circumstances. Call us for a free consultation at 610-565-3701 or contact us online. From our offices in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we represent clients from the surrounding areas, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.