Throughout our platform we state that HereToday was built for you – for families – for preserving memories, unlocking digital assets, and distributing legal documents when you’re incapacitated or pass away. Among these documents should be instructions for guardianship of a minor; however this critical component is sometimes overlooked by families crafting their estate plans.
Despite the need for a clear directive most families have not drafted a will, trust, or named a legal guardian. The emotional strain of crafting these documents, especially selecting a guardian, often leads to delaying this process.
What is Guardianship?
Guardianship is the legal process used to protect individuals who are unable to care for their own well-being due to infancy (not being of legal adult age), disability limitations, or incapacity. In the case of children, guardianship of a minor is a legal relationship where one person, or a couple, is given the authority and duty to care for your child or property. Typically a guardian is named in your will. Additionally, it’s common practice to name one or more successor guardians if the first choice is unavailable. The guardian will be responsible for all aspects of your child’s life until they reach the age of 18 (or other state mandated adult status).
Selecting a Guardian
When selecting a guardian consider someone closely aligned to your values and who’s responsible to act on your minor’s behalf. This person should be physically and emotionally able to care for your children in your absence. Although a guardian must be approved by the court, most state laws give priority to your selection.
Formalize the Decision
Once you’ve selected a guardian to care for your children, you’ll need to formalize the decision in a will or family trust.
A few suggestions to help you get started:
- Make a spreadsheet highlighting favorable traits and values
- Explore and acknowledge any emotional blocks that prevent a decision
- Speak with your family and friends
- Connect with individuals on your short list
- Have an attorney create a will and/or trust
The difficulty of this decision is genuine. However unlikely guardianship being utilized, it’s best to have your family prepared for the unforeseen. Please consult an attorney when creating any legal document.
Selecting a guardian is one of the most important and difficult decisions you’ll make. The process of determining who will best love and protect your child should not be taken lightly.