One of your most important responsibilities as a parent is to select and legally document guardians for your children. This does not mean just naming godparents or trusting the grandparents will step in if necessary.
It means consciously deciding who would raise your children if you cannot. And then it means legally documenting your choices and making sure the people you have chosen know what to do if they are ever called upon.
However, most people have no idea how to even start this process, much less create a legally binding plan.
Because of this, many parents simply never get around to doing it. And those who do often make one of several common mistakes—even if they have worked with a lawyer.
Why? Because most lawyers have not been trained properly to help parents with this vital issue.
Most People Never Create a Plan!
As a result, unless you have worked with us or another trained Personal Family Lawyer®, it is likely your children are extremely vulnerable to being taken out of your home and placed in the care of strangers.
This might be temporary, while the authorities figure out what to do, or they could end up being raised to adulthood by someone you would never choose.
Even if you do not have any minor children at home, please consider sharing this article with any friends or family who do—it is that important.
While it is rare for something to happen to both parents of a minor child, it does occur, and the consequences are simply too severe to not take a few simple steps to select and legally name guardians the right way.
To help with this process, we have outlined some basic steps to select and name a legal guardian.
Regardless of whether you own any other assets or wealth, it is vital to complete this process immediately, so you know that who you care about most—your kids—will be cared for the way you want, no matter what.
⇒ We’ve even created an easy-to-use website, where you can go through these steps to create legal documents naming guardians for the long-term care of your children, absolutely free. Do it here now: https://lilaccitylaw.kidsprotectionplan.com/
Steps for Naming a Legal Guardian
Define your ideal candidate
The first step in selecting a guardian is to come up with a list outlining the qualities and attributes you and your partner value most when it comes to the long-term care of your children. The list can mirror your own parenting philosophy and style, as well as list the qualities that would make up your absolute “dream” guardian.
In addition to qualities like parental values, discipline style, religious/spiritual background, kindness, and honesty, you also need to consider more practical matters.
Is the person young enough and physically capable of raising your kids to adulthood? Do they have a family of their own, and if so, would adding your kids to the mix be too much?
Geography should also come into play—do they live nearby, and if not, would it be a major hardship to relocate your children? Is their home in a location you would feel comfortable having your kids grow up in?
One thing you may think you should consider is financial stability, and that is a frequent misconception. Even though the people you name as legal guardians for your children will be making decisions for their healthcare and their education, they do not need to be the ones managing your children’s financial needs.
Ideally, you will leave behind ample financial resources for your children and the people raising them. You can do this by establishing a trust for those resources and naming a financial guardian, or trustee, to oversee them.
Please contact us for help with that, as there are many options to consider.
Make a list of candidates
Based on those parenting qualities, start compiling a list of people in your life who match your ideals. Be sure to consider not only family but also close friends.
Though you may feel obligated to choose a family member, this decision is about what is best for your children’s future, not trying to protect someone’s feelings. And if you are having trouble coming up with enough suitable candidates, try coming up with people who you would definitely NOT want as guardians, and work backward from there.
Or consider the person a judge would likely select if you did not make your own choice and whether there are any other people you would prefer to raise your children.
Select first responders (temporary guardians)
In addition to legally naming long-term guardians, you also need to choose someone in your local area to be a “first responder,” or temporary guardian. This is someone who lives near you and who is willing to immediately go to your children during a time of crisis and take care of them until the long-term guardian is notified and appointed by the court pursuant to your long-term guardianship nomination.
If your children are in the care of someone like a babysitter without legal authority to have custody of them, the police will have no choice but to call Child Protective Services and take your children into the care of the authorities.
From there, your children could be placed in the care of strangers until your named long-term guardian shows up, or until the court decides on an appropriate guardian.
This is an area where plans that only name a legal guardian through a Will typically fail. Beyond naming just a long-term guardian, you need a short-term, temporary guardian who is named as the first responder and knows exactly what to do if something happens to you.
Once you have chosen your long-term guardian, it is imperative that all temporary caretakers know exactly how to contact them. This precaution is not just about your death—it also covers your incapacity and any other situation when you are unable to return home for a lengthy period of time.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.