If you are the parent of a minor child, one of the most important functions of a will is to name a guardian for your child. If you were to pass away without a valid will, the court would be responsible for choosing who would receive custody of your child.
Single or divorced parents should keep in mind that the surviving parent is assumed to have the legal right to custody unless he or she has already been stripped of parental rights. If you are divorced and feel that your child’s other parent is unfit to be his or her guardian, you should discuss this issue with your attorney before choosing a guardian to name in your will.
Most experts recommend that your will include a guardian and an alternate choice if your first choice is unable to accept the responsibility. If you would like for a married couple to be the guardians of your child, you can list them each as co-guardians.
The best guardian is someone who would raise your child much in the same way that you would. If it is important to you that your child be raised in a specific religious doctrine, you should choose a guardian that shares your views. Other personal values, such as a strong belief in the importance of art and cultural activities, should be considered as well.
Many people list their own parents as guardians for their children. However, your child’s grandparents may not be able to handle the responsibility given their age and health. Raising a child full time is very different from successfully handling the occasional day of babysitting.
Ideally, the guardian you select should be in a position to preserve as much of your child’s daily routine as possible. Dealing with the loss of a parent or parents is traumatic enough without having to change schools or move several states away from friends and other sources of emotional support.
Finally, if your own financial resources are limited, you should consider whether your chosen guardian is going to be able to handle your child’s financial needs. Someone who is already struggling to make ends meet may not be the best choice to take on responsibility for your child’s welfare.
How Can We Help?
Consulting an experienced estate planning attorney is the best way to ensure that you’ll be prepared no matter what the future holds. If you are in need of legal representation relating to an estate planning issue, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at info@PasadenaLawOffice.com.