The most important people in your world – your kids – may be vulnerable. You could have protected them, but by doing nothing, you made an unconscious decision to leave them unprotected. This is what can happen if you die without naming guardians in a will.
It’s not something anyone wants to think about, but it happens. In just a second, your family’s life together can end. To protect your children, you and your spouse should have several conversations about estate planning and naming guardians. Here are 5 talking points:
1. List Potential Guardians
Make a list of your friends and relatives that could be potential guardians. Examine each one closely. Your parents would be loving and caring advocates, but they aren’t getting any younger.
Your partner’s brother and wife would be terrific, too, but they live in another state. Could your kids handle leaving their home and friends after losing their parents? The changes might be devastating. Your neighbors have kids the same age and seem to have the same family structure. Would they be willing to open their homes and hearts to your children?
This is a tough conversation and one that takes some careful analysis by both of you. When you decide who to ask to serve as guardians for your kids, be emotionally prepared for their answer. It’s a heavy-duty responsibility and not one to be taken lightly. Your family or close friends may say “no.”
2. Should You Consider Co-Guardians?
One couple named her parents to serve as live-in guardians for their kids if they died. They named his brother as the financial manager, a type of co-guardian for their children. They felt this put a system of checks and balances in place; plus they knew their parents and brother would both want the best outcomes for their children.
3. Who Shares Your Personal and Religious Values?
You and your spouse agree on one couple that would be loving guardians, but… they are of an entirely different religion and their life-views are 180 degrees from yours. Would your family’s religious values and church preferences be honored? Would your established social norms and attitudes be observed?
4. Do the Kids Have Specific Needs?
There are heartwarming stories about families struggling to stay together, but the reality is, your children have different needs. Your 11-year-old has football practice and loves video games. He would be better off with his cousins and their family, who know how to monitor preteen online games.
Your parents have no clue what an Xbox is, but your kindergarteners would be well cared for and nurtured by them. Choosing the best people to raise your kids is definitely a matter of their age and direction in life. As the children grow, someone who may have been a great fit for them as a toddler may not be the best fit once they’re teenagers so consider that a guardian is a permanent decision.
5. Who Should You Choose as an Attorney?
Naming guardians isn’t a DIY (do-it-yourself) process. You may think it’s fine to ask your sister if she’d “take the kids” if anything happened. That may be your wish, but if you don’t make a legally binding will as part of your estate plan, things can go wrong. Ultimately, a judge – a stranger – may make the all-important decision about how and where your children will be cared for.
Arizona Family Law and Estate Planning
Naming guardians in your will can be part of your estate plan. You may think you’re too young or don’t have enough money to justify the expense, but if you have children, you have priceless assets. There are many considerations when naming guardians for your kids. However, the process doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.
There’s nothing better than the peace of mind you will have knowing you’ve protected your family at a time when they need it most. Let us help. Schedule a consultation or contact Ogborne Law, PLC of Arizona today.
Engaging with an attorney to protect your family is never an easy step. Whether you need to protect your family from the unthinkable or restructure your family through collaborative divorce, we’re here to help. When you’re ready to schedule a consultation with Michelle Ogborne, please visit the scheduling page to get started.