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Advice on choosing a guardian for you child.

Your plan does not name a backup guardian for your minor child

If you have minor children, arguably the most important estate planning decision you have to make is choosing a guardian for them should the unthinkable occur. You have likely put much thought into this decision to ensure your children would be cared for as you wish. But if you do not also choose a backup guardian, your children still might not be cared for according to your wishes. Why? If your first choice dies or is unable or unwilling to serve for some other reason, a court will appoint a guardian.

Here are a few issues to consider when evaluating potential guardians:

  • Do they want to serve as guardians?
  • Does your estate plan provide sufficient resources so that caring for your children will not cause an economic hardship?
  • Do they share your values and parenting philosophy?
  • If they are married, is the marriage stable?
  • If they have children, do your children get along with them?
  • How old are they in relation to the children? A grandparent or other older person may not be the best choice to care for an infant or toddler, for example.
  • Are their homes large enough to make room for your children?

Keep in mind that a court's obligation is to do what is in the best interest of your children. The court is not bound by your guardian appointment but will generally honor your choice unless there is a compelling reason not to. It is a good idea to prepare a letter explaining the reasons you believe your appointees are best equipped to care for your children.

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