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How to Choose a Guardian for Your Kids

How to Choose a Guardian for Your Kids

When my wife and I did our estate plan, the hardest choice we had to make was who would take care of our kids if something happened to us. To help in the decision making process, here is a handy guide any parent can use when deciding who should be the Guardian for their kids.

First, don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings!  Some people don’t name guardians because they are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. For example, if they don’t name a certain family member, they fear that family member will be upset. These are your kids we are talking about!  Hurting someone’s feelings should be of secondary concern.  Second, that family member usually won’t know they haven’t been named unless you choose to tell them.
Now list all the people you can imagine raising your kids.  Of course, no one will be as good as you!  By the same token, generally speaking NO ONE is perfect. Therefore, don’t let that fact keep you from creating this important legal document! Some parents get stuck on this part, and as a result, end up doing nothing!  So go ahead and list about 3 to 5 people or couples.  If you can’t think of anyone, then work backwards – try making a list of people who should NEVER raise your children….then start listing people who are better than those people you’ve just listed.  Remember, you don’t want to leave this decision to a court.
At this point, start listing the most important things to you when it comes to raising your kids – is it the location where they are raised, the age of those raising your kids, their parenting style, their religion, marital status, their relationship to your kids, etc?  List about 3 issues/values that are most important to you.
Take your first list of people, and your second list, and now match them up.  You will start to see a natural hierarchy.  There should always be at least two guardians listed.
Are these possibilities also good with finances?  If not, consider naming the hierarchy of choices, above, as guardian of the person and those with financial savvy as guardian of the estate. These can be two different persons and definitely involve different capabilities.
Last – Make sure to discuss things with your chosen guardians.  You want to make sure they are willing to serve! 

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