If you have a minor child or multiple children, you need to make sure that you have appointed, in writing, someone who would raise and take care of them as a guardian in the event that both you and your spouse would be killed in an accident, or should both die before they have reached adulthood.
As you begin to list and evaluate your candidates as Guardian, consider the following:
- Parenting style, values, and religious beliefs should be similar to your own. If your candidates have children, observe how they are raising and disciplining them. If they don’t have children, find out all you can about how they were raised; people tend to parent how they were parented.
- How far away from you do they live? Would your child have to move far away from a familiar school, friends, and neighborhood at an emotionally difficult time?
- How comfortable with your guardian candidate is your child (or children) now?
- How prepared emotionally are your candidates to take on this added responsibility? Someone who is single may resent having to care for someone else’s children. Someone with a houseful of their own kids may not wish to add children, or may actually welcome the addition.
- Do they have the time and energy? Your parents may have the time, but consider if they would have the energy to keep up with a toddler or teenager. Someone who works long hours may not seem the ideal candidate at first, but they may be willing to change their priorities if needed.
- If your guardian candidates have children of their own, would your child fit in, or feel lost?
- Consider the age of your child and of your candidates. An older guardian may become ill or even die before your child is grown. A younger guardian, especially an adult sibling, may be concentrating on finishing college or starting a career. If your child is older and more mature, he or she should have some input into your decision.
- Is your selection willing to serve? Ask. Don’t assume they will take the job if it comes to them.
If you have not provided for a guardian, a judge or court will decide for you who will raise your child or children without knowing whom you would have preferred. You can’t assume the judge or court will pick the person(s) who you would have otherwise wanted. Anyone can ask to be considered and the court will ultimately select the person(s) it deems most appropriate.