When most people think of the purpose of a Last Will and Testament they envision the distribution of estate assets after death. While your Will does allow you to decide who will receive which assets after your death, it can also serve one other vitally important purpose – allowing you the opportunity to nominate a guardian for minor children. In fact, your Will is the only chance you will have to officially tell a judge who you would want to assume the care of your children if you are gone. Deciding who to nominate as guardian is a decision that should only be made after careful contemplation and consideration. To ensure that you make the right decision you may wish to use the following “Questions to consider when choosing a guardian for minor children.”
- Does your child have already have a relationship with the individual? As a general rule, the older your child is the more important it is that they already have an established relationship because an older child may rebel against the authority of a virtual stranger, especially right after losing a parent.
- Does the proposed guardian share your parenting philosophy and style? You may not see eye to eye on everything, but on major issues such as education, medical treatment, and discipline it is best of you share the same philosophies so that you know your child(ren) will be raised similarly to how you would have raised him/her.
- Do you share the same, or similar, religious beliefs? Religion, for some people, is a deal breaker. If you are one of those people you need to pick a guardian who shares your beliefs.
- Does the individual have existing commitments that might get in the way? Of course you won’t find anyone with NO commitments; however, it will also be unwise to nominate someone who is effectively married to his/her job or cause.
- Does the candidate live close by, or is he/she willing to relocate? Your child(ren) will be dealing with enough stress and changes without having to also pick up and change schools and friends. Try and pick a guardian who already lives close or who is willing to relocate – at least on a temporary basis.
- Does the proposed guardian have the maturity needed for the position? Let’s face it, not everyone is ready to be a parent. Make sure you choose someone who is.
- Does the individual have the financial resources to take on your children? As you know, raising a child is not cheap. Make sure your proposed guardian has the funds to support your child (ren) or make sure you have made arrangements elsewhere in your estate plan to leave behind the funds needed to care for your child(ren).
- Have you discussed the nomination with the candidate?
Never assume someone is willing to take on the role of parent to your child(ren), even if they appear to be interested and hands-on when around you and your kids. Take the time to sit down and discuss the nomination and make sure he/she is willing to be a guardian before you make the nomination in your Will.
If you have additional questions or concerns about nominating a guardian in your Last Will and Testament, contact the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. by calling 281-759-3213 to schedule your appointment today.
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