If you have minor children, one of most important things you can do is choose a guardian and formally appoint them in your Last Will and Testament. A guardian is the person you legally authorize to raise your children in the event of your death. Naming a guardian is one of the top reasons young parents create an estate plan. To help you decide on a guardian, here’s a list of topics you may want to consider while choosing a potential candidate:
Religion, Political, Moral Beliefs. These topics often are the most important considerations for young parents. Are you comfortable with the proposed guardian’s religious, political, and moral beliefs? Are you confident that your children will be raised in a way that honors your current religious, political and moral framework?
Location. Does the person you’d like to name as guardian live a significant distance from you? Are you comfortable having your children raised in the community where the guardian resides? Is the guardian’s home large enough to accommodate your children? Would your children need to relocate to a new school and leave their existing friends?
Existing Family. If the person is married, is the marriage stable? Would the spouse welcome and respect your children in his/her home? Does the person have children? If so, are the guardian’s views on education and social activities similar to your views? If the person does not have children, would they be comfortable raising your children? Is the guardian’s method of discipline similar to your own?
Age. If you prefer an older guardian, they might be in a better financial position and may have more time to spend with your children, but he or she might be less equipped to help your children face the social pressures of the future. Younger guardians may be more in tune with current issues but due to career demands, they may have less time for the day-to-day duties associated with child rearing.
Health. Raising young children is mentally and physically demanding. A guardian with ongoing health issues may not have the energy or strength necessary to provide a stable environment for your children. Is this person in a position to devote the necessary time and energy to help your children fulfill their potential?
Finances. Will acting as a guardian for your children cause a financial burden for this person? Do you have provisions in place to provide finances for your children’s care after your death? Is this guardian capable of managing the children’s finances or should you consider naming a separate person as conservator of their funds?
Willingness. An honest conversation with the proposed guardian is an absolute necessity. Be sure to discuss the anticipated responsibilities and your desires for your children’s future. He or she needs to understand the role of a guardian and be willing to assume the responsibility.
It is important that you always choose an alternate person to name as guardian just in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve. Remember, without formally naming a guardian for your children, you will allow the State to make that choice for you.
If you have questions about naming a guardian for your minor children or any Kansas estate planning topic, contact Davis & McCann, P.A., Dodge City, Kansas at 620-225-1674. We are members of Wealth Counsel, a national consortium of Estate Planning Attorneys and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). We focus our practice on providing clients with the best legal advice on Estate Planning, Medicaid and Long-term Care Planning, Special Needs Planning, Family Business/Small Business Succession Planning, Probate, Trust Administration, Real Estate, 1031 Exchanges, and related matters.
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