Establishing A Legal Guardianship Arrangement For Your Children

Making arrangements for the care of your children in the event of dire circumstances isn't just good parenting, it's also good planning. No one can predict what the future will bring, but you can take steps to ensure your children are well cared for even if you can't be there to do so. Establishing a legal guardianship while you're still able to make those decisions will ensure that someone you trust is given responsibility for raising your child once you're gone.

Before You Broach the Subject

Having a conversation with a family member or trusted friend about raising your children won't be easy for either of you, so before you do so there are some important factors to look at. This will help you narrow down a list of potential candidates and reaffirm any decision you might already be considering. The more you know about the people you're thinking of, the easier it will be to answer some of the tough questions involved before sitting them down to ask them directly.

Raising a child is expensive, so make sure that you're looking at people who are capable of providing the support your child needs, both emotionally and financially. Give deferential consideration to married couples, as this will provide greater stability for your child and ensure you're not reliant on a single individual. Once you have your first choice settled on, decide on at least two others in case one or more of them declines or isn't able to take on the responsibility for some other reason.

Where the Courts Stand

Establishing a guardianship for your child really only requires that you outline your wishes as plainly and specifically as possible in your will. However, a judge will still have the final say in order to ensure that any arrangements are in the best interest of your children. Try to predict possible objections the court may have, and draft a letter for the court in which you explain your decision.

If possible, assign a share of your estate to the role of guardian in your will, both to demonstrate your trust and to help ease the transition for your children and the household they'll be moving into. This will also help to alleviate some of the potential concerns a judge may raise. It might be tempting to focus only on people you know who already have children, but the addition of more children into that family could be a potential sticking point for a judge, so don't limit yourself in this way unless you know they have the means to take on the extra responsibility.

Looking after your children isn't something that stops just because you can't be physically present in their lives. Making arrangements for a guardian to take custody of them ensures that they'll be looked after by someone they're familiar with and that you know well enough to trust with the most precious people in your life.