As new parents, there is always something on your mind. Something you need in the present, but also concern about having the right foundation for your new child. Life is uncertain, and you want to make sure you cover the basics of raising a child in this world: finances, security, values, and religion, shelter and more.
You’re going to provide these, but you need an ironclad plan: something that will withstand the strongest challenges. Many parents give detailed attention to their estate plans and wills but overlook guardianship.
What happens to your child if something happens to you?
Nobody likes to think about their mortality, but accidents happen and you need to be prepared. What happens if both parents are lost in a car crash? You can lay out a plan that will implement your wishes, even if you’re gone.
Choosing a guardian is a serious decision with many factors. While you may first think that your parents will do it, consider their age and health. It may not be the best fit as they age themselves. Your siblings? Maybe they already have a full house of their own.
Some basic things to think about when making your choice include:
- Does the person share your core values?
- What is their relationship with your child?
- How would a child fit into their lifestyle?
- Do they want to do the job?
- Can they handle the job?
As with parenting, there are many unpredictable circumstances and varied legal approaches. Ultimately, you want to choose someone who will raise your child similar to your own wishes, somebody who will love them as their own child.
You should consider naming guardians for both temporary and permanent situations, as different scenarios might lead to different guardian selections. For example, if you are injured but likely to recover, then you may want your children to be closer to home for visits. A permanent situation would be different.
Guardianship can be the simple choice of a person to raise your children when you’re gone, but the law allows for detailed plans that address many of life’s more nuanced angles. Through a detailed estate plan, you can also create a trust to fund your child’s upbringing, which relieves the financial burden for your guardian.
Whether you are looking to simply name a guardian or to draw a step-by-step plan for the unexpected, talking with an experienced estate planning lawyer will help you to understand your options and how to set up your child’s future, no matter what happens along the way.