The one question most parents forget when selecting a permanent guardian for their kids
Written by Michelle N. Ogborne

The one question most parents forget when selecting a permanent guardian for their kids

As adults, we have estate-planning responsibilities. Selecting a permanent guardian for our kids may be the toughest. There are so many considerations when selecting a permanent guardian for your kids, it’s no wonder so many people delay doing it.

As soon as their son was born, one couple began examining “What if…” situations. Naturally, they discussed, “What if we died?” The thought of their precious newborn becoming the ward of any court was horrifying, so they began the task of naming legal guardians right away.

It took them 4 years to finally complete the wills that named her parents as legal, permanent guardians for their child. At last! When they shared the final document drafts, the grandparents were delighted. Then, her mother asked the one question they’d never considered.

What They Forgot

“Who’s your backup?” asked the grandmother. When the parents’ jaws dropped, she continued, “Everyone has to have a Plan B…” That’s when the struggles began anew. His younger brother was a terrific second choice for a permanent guardian, but what if his sister’s feelings were hurt?

Use Logic First

Your children’s grandparents or other named guardians may be active, dynamic, and relatively young, but so are you. Anything can happen. Having a backup guardian for your kids makes sense.

Begin the process using a somewhat detached logic. Look at your kids’ ages and needs. Those needs can include physical challenges, emotional support, or perhaps a sport that requires expensive equipment and travel to nearby communities.

Who, on your potential permanent guardian list has the ability to manage your children’s needs? Once you’ve made a list of the most logical people who can serve as permanent guardians for your kids, delve deeper into their basic tenets.

What’s Really Important?

Parents have values and rules about how they want to live and connect with each other as a family unit.

“I’m so glad our kids are growing up on a farm! They may be ‘sheltered,’ but with everything going on in today’s world, I’m okay with that.”

“Our kids had passports by first grade. We want them to see and experience the excitement of cultural diversity first-hand.”

“Children should be seen and not heard.” This is a 15th-century proverb, and it means what it says. Kids should be quiet. It is an antiquated saying for sure, but some modern family structures are based on children not speaking until spoken to. It’s considered polite.

Real-World Kid-Raising

Many of us begin our parenting journey with high standards and lofty goals. Once the reality electronic-device management kicks in, necessary parental adjustments are made. Every family is different. Kicking your brother in the head brings swift, harsh punishment in one home; in another, kids can “sort it out” on their own for an amount of time before being sent to separate corners.

You likely want permanent guardians for your kids that mirror your basic values. Learn more about their beliefs and opinions regarding your kids and:

  • Discipline
  • Education
  • Globalization
  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Volunteerism

Don’t Forget: Your Kids Are Your Priority

What’s most important is to feel good about your first- and second-choices being the right guardianship choices. This isn’t to say to be insensitive to other family members or friends that wanted that honor. Simply explain, with confidence, that it was a tough choice and one you will evaluate every year. Kids get older, relationships change, and your estate plan should keep pace with your family’s growth.

Take Your Time, but Hurry

With so much at stake, why would you delay naming a permanent guardian for your kids? Let’s discuss your options and find a process that works well for you and your co-parent. Contact Ogborne Law, PLC today.