Choosing a guardian for your minor child could be one of the most personal decisions you ever make—it’s also one of the most important, which is why many couples turn to an attorney they trust to not only help them draft their nomination document, but also help advise them in this crucial decision. With such a personal matter the decision-making criteria will stem primarily from the heart, but there are some legal factors and implications that may affect the decision, and this is where an attorney can be helpful.
Forbes online recently published an article outlining the specific ways in which an attorney can be indispensable when choosing a guardian for a minor child; these include:
Explaining relevant statutory framework regarding guardianship to parents. As the article mentions, guardianship laws vary significantly from state to state. The manner in which you choose to name your guardians will likely be different depending on which state in which you live. For example, will you name just one guardian for both person and property, or will you need to name specific guardians for each of those two areas?
Discussing factors clients should consider when naming a guardian. There are so many criteria to consider when choosing a guardian that many parents get caught up in how to prioritize essential qualities of potential guardians. An attorney certainly can’t tell you which of your friends and family may be most fit to care for your child, but an attorney can help you asses the financial ability, emotional willingness, and compatibility of values of your candidates.
Emphasizing economic implications of the client’s decision. Most parents, when considering guardians for their children, think primarily of emotional attachment, family dynamic, and parenting style; but an attorney will remind you that finances should also be a significant part of your decision-making process. Guardians are not necessarily legally obligated to use their own funds to support their wards, which means that parents will want to discuss with an attorney the best way to provide financial support for their children.
Drafting provisions setting forth client wishes regarding the upbringing of their children. Parenting is an incredibly personal process; hundreds of small choices are made each day which shape the minds and values of our children. Some parents may want to express their wishes for how their child should be raised, even after their death. Guardians cannot be required to follow parenting guidelines when they accept guardianship; an attorney, however, can suggest a few ways that parents can encourage guardians to respect their wishes regarding upbringing.
A nomination of guardians may very well be the most important estate planning document you draft, our firm can help ensure that every bit of information has been considered and addressed before you make your final decision.