If a parent dies without a will and there is no surviving parent to care for the child, the court will determine who will care for the child. The court may not choose the person you would want to raise your child, so the best thing you can do is name one yourself. Before naming a guardian in your will, consider the following:
1. Marital Statussome would say a person can be a better parent if s/he has no other responsibilities, and some would prefer a guardian who has parenting experience.
2. Geographic locationsin choosing a guardian, consider whether the person lives in the same city or state as you do. Consider whether your children are used to living in a city vs. living in the country. Where do you want your children to be raised?
3. AgeThink about the age of the guardian as compared to your own age. Is the guardian old enough or young enough to manage the demands of your children?
4. Financial Responsibilityyou should give careful consideration as to whether the guardian should also be the trustee of the trust you leave for your children. If not, it should not affect your decision to name that person as guardian because you can name a separate trustee.
5. ValuesIs the guardian’s religion an important factor in your decision? Perhaps values are even more important to you. Do you want the guardian of your children to be someone who values education or travel? Will the guardian raise your children in a manner with which you would be comfortable?
Getting Legal Help
An experienced Estate Planning Attorney can advise you on what you should consider for your family’s individual needs and how to choose the right guardian for your children.