As a parent, your children are the center of your universe. As such, thinking about where they will go if something happens to you can be a really difficult task to face. Finding the right person to take care of your children can seem overwhelming – after all, there’s a lot to consider when choosing a guardian. Is the person in question financially responsible? Do they like kids? How well do your kids know them? We’ll help you walk through some important things to think about when trying to make sure your kids are safe and taken care of, just in case.
Kids are a huge financial commitment. Raising them can be very expensive, and when considering a guardian for your kids, you’ll need to consider how financially responsible that person is. Consider their history. Have they complained to you about how much credit card debt they have, without really doing anything about it? Are they always borrowing money from you or from friends and family? These may be signs that this person is not financially responsible enough to care for your kids. However, if the person you are considering lives within their means, saves and spends responsibly, and has a steady job, these are things that would indicate financial responsibility and point towards that person being a good choice to take care of your children.
If you have a friend or family member who is particularly good with finances, but not necessarily raising children, you might consider talking to that person about being the guardian of the estate for your children. This means that they would be in charge of managing the child’s finances and assets until the child turns 18, but they would not be in charge of actually raising the child. The person in charge of raising the child is called the guardian of the person. These two roles can be taken on by the same person, or by different people.
The next thing to consider is how your values and parenting philosophies line up with the potential guardians’ values. Of course you don’t have to agree on absolutely everything, but if there are major disconnects in the way you parent, such as one of you believing in spanking and the other one not believing in any kind of corporal punishment, you might want to consider someone else. Everyone has a different approach to raising children, but you likely have a general idea of the way you want your children to be brought up. It’s important to find someone who has similar ideas when selecting a guardian. A similar lifestyle also might be helpful. For example, if you live in the suburbs, you might consider looking for a guardian that also lives in the suburbs in order to make the transition easier for your children.
You need to be sure to find someone who is adequately prepared to take over the responsibility of raising your children should something happen to you and your spouse. Do they have kids already? This can be a good thing or a bad thing- if they already have kids, they know what to expect when raising kids and it may be a smoother learning curve if they end up raising yours. However, if they already have kids, adding yours on top of theirs might just be too much for them to handle. Additionally, consider age and health. You want to pick someone who’s young and healthy enough to be able to keep up with kids, but also old enough to be mature and responsible.
Be Open and Honest With Potential Guardians
You don’t want to just pick someone and then surprise them with your decision, putting them on the spot. Let them know early in the decision process that you would like to consider them to be guardians for your children in the event that something happens to you. This will not only give them the opportunity to say no if they feel they cannot handle the responsibility, but also open up a dialogue about both parties’ questions and concerns. They’ll be able to find out more about your kids’ personalities, hobbies, and more in order to consider whether they’d be able to raise them well, and you’ll have an easy way to ask about their parenting philosophies, their kids if they have any, and any other concerns you might have. Make sure your children get to know their potential guardians, as well. If something should happen to you and your spouse, you don’t want them to have to live with someone who’s a complete stranger to them.
Picked a Guardian?
If you’ve found the perfect guardian for your children and they’ve agreed to take on the role, that’s great! You’ll need to sit down with an attorney and draw up the paperwork to make it official. Our experienced attorneys in Cleveland, OH can help your family navigate the process. Contact Steuer, Escovar, and Coleman at (216) 771-8121 for a FREE consultation today, or visit our website.