Becoming a parent is a milestone event in our lives. Many new parents reflect on how their life is different and the responsibilities associated with raising a child for decades to come. Occasionally, these new responsibilities result in a number of action items to secure the future of the family. For some, this is the catalyst to prepare a will and determine who will be the guardian of the minor child in the event of death.
For many, it can be difficult to imagine anyone other than yourself raising your child, but it’s an important part of your planning if you have children. Let’s look at some considerations when nominating a guardian in a will.
Choose someone you know well. Your child should feel safe, well-loved and comfortable with your chosen guardian. You should know this person’s values, beliefs, goals and parenting style and how closely they align with yours.
What are their views on discipline, sports, school, politics or religion? Will they support your child’s educational pursuits? Are their passions and interests consistent with yours? Choosing someone that will provide your child with certain experiences and opportunities, such as the arts, business, academia and sciences, may be important to you.
The personal and financial care of your child is paramount. While the guardian is responsible for the care of the child, a trustee is responsible for the short and long-term financial interests of the child. Because not all good caregivers are financially astute and not all financially responsible people make great guardians, you may want to consider having independent parties to care for the assets and your child. The two parties will need to work collaboratively to determine the personal and financial needs of the child, but these layers of independence can provide some balance.
Vitality and age
To ensure they are around to see your child through to adulthood, a factor to consider is the vitality of your guardian. They should be healthy and physically able to take care of your child. While parents, or grandparents, are natural choices as guardians, consider their age and current and prospective health before making a final decision.
It may be preferred to nominate a guardian that is physically close to friends and other family members. This would lead to fewer disruptions in your child’s life and more familiarity with their surroundings in an uncertain time.
If your guardian’s home isn’t set up to accommodate a bigger family size, they might have to adjust or look at other properties. Consider how this might impact a possible guardian.
Your guardian may be single with no kids or married with three of their own. If your guardian has their own children, think about how well your child would fit into this environment. Do you think your child would get along well with the other kids and feel loved and welcomed? Perhaps your guardian is married with no children. Are you comfortable with their spouse and relationship?
Making a choice
Once you have decided on a guardian, as well as an alternate guardian, have a conversation to see if they are up for the task. Discuss your thoughts and hopes for your child. If they accept the responsibility, add them as a guardian in your will. You may wish to provide them with a memo detailing your goals for the child as well as your values and how you want them raised.
The experts at ATB Wealth can help you answer the tough questions as you create your will and estate plan.
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