Estate planning is strongly recommended for anyone, but when you have young children, the process is especially important. Urgent, even. Not only do you want to provide for them financially, you also need to name a guardian who will raise them in the event that you and their other parent die or are otherwise unable to care for them.
If you haven’t done this yet, you’re not the only one. Over 60% of parents have yet to name a guardian for their minor children. For some, it’s too distressing to even think that they might not always be there for their kids. Other parents may simply assume that family members will step in. But avoiding choosing a guardian at all? Big mistake. If a couple cannot agree on a guardian, it’s best to compromise and come to a decision, because if you can’t agree, the default is to do nothing in which case you’re leaving it up to a judge to decide. Do you really want the court system making that decision?
Once you’re ready to make this huge and necessary step, make sure that you avoid these four common mistakes.
Mistake No. 1: Naming only one Guardian
Even if you select someone who is perfect for the responsibility in every way, you should have at least one alternative ready, in case your first choice passes away, changes their mind, or is unavailable for any reason at the time that they are needed.
Mistake No. 2: Failing to consider the financial abilities of potential Guardians
Your sister and her husband both love your kids, so should it really matter that they have poor money management ability and are barely able to make ends meet? Actually, it should, and it does. You want to name a guardian who can afford to give your children the type of life you would have provided them. If your choices are limited in that respect, consider setting up a trust fund or investing in life insurance and authorizing your chosen guardians to access the money for the benefit of the children.
Mistake No. 3: Naming a Guardian with different parenting values
When you name a guardian, you’re selecting the person who will raise your children in your absence. He or she may be a wonderful person who sincerely loves the kids (and vice-versa), but do their parenting values mirror yours? Perhaps you want your kids to attend university while they don’t place much value on education after high school. Think about the potential future before making a decision.
Mistake No. 4: Naming a ‘one half’ of a couple
Your brother is a wonderful, caring uncle to your kids and they love spending time with him. Therefore, should the fact that his wife is not fond of children preclude him from being named as a guardian? Yes, absolutely. If something happens to your brother later on, would you want her to be sole guardian for them? If the answer is no, name someone else.
Choosing the right guardian for your kids is arguably one of the most important decisions you will ever have to make as a parent. You need to carefully consider future possibilities and make the choice that would give them the best possible upbringing should the future make it impossible for you to do so personally.
For advice and assistance on naming a guardian for your children, contact Estate Connection today. We will help you review your choices and formalize your final decision in a way that ensures the future protection of your children.