Choosing someone to whom you should grant guardianship of your minor children in the event you are no longer able to care for them is a difficult idea to wrestle with.
First things, first, it is not even clear what we mean by not able to take care of them. What could happen; a car accident, mental health decline, old age, something else entirely?
The list of things that could happen is pretty long, and the list of things you can do to pre-arrange for your family to be taken care of is fairly short. At the top of that list is nominate guardians to care for them should something actually happen to you or to you and your partner.
Very often, you will be able to do the work of nominating a guardian yourself.
But sometimes having a guardianship attorney involved in the process will make the whole process much more manageable.
And, in certain particular circumstances, including a guardianship attorney is necessary for your wishes to be carried out in a manner that is best for your child.
You Might Need a Guardianship Attorney if You Anticipate Trouble
There are two directions from which trouble could arise regarding who gets guardianship of your minor children. The first is from family members who may not approve of the person you choose, and the second is from an absent parent, which can occur with divorced or unmarried couples.
If no plans are in place, the other parent will be given first consideration for guardianship. In some cases, that parent may not be fit to raise children. Maybe there is a history of abuse, drug or alcohol issues, or uncontrolled mental health issues.
If you want to make sure this parent is not given guardianship, it will be up to you to prove that they are unfit. An experienced lawyer can help you obtain the information you need.
Family members are next on the list. However, lifestyle, ideals, or maybe the chance of your children getting split up can cause you to seek someone other than a family member for guardianship of your children. Having everything legally in place will help should a fight occur over custody.
Make a Plan if Your Choice(s) Fall Through
You may pick someone you feel is young enough to handle the rigors of raising children, financially stable, and also willing to raise the kids with your values. Your children know and love this person, and the feeling is mutual.
Life is uncertain, however. Maybe the event that causes the need for guardianship is a car accident, and maybe your choice for a guardian is in the same accident.
If you do not have a backup plan, then your children will be in a situation in which the courts would decide their fate. Working with a guardianship attorney, you can make provisions for the chance that your initial choice falls through for one reason or another.
Often, only you would know of this backup plan, but having a lawyer who is also aware of your wishes would allow the courts to be able to follow your preferences.
Guardianship attorneys can also be lifesavers when there are exceptional circumstances.
Maybe your child is legally an adult but has a physical or mental challenge that requires supervision. It takes a lot to care for such a person, and the courts might find themselves stuck with placing your child in an institution because there is nobody they know of who can take over.
Even worse, your child may get lost in the system and be left with nobody to care for them. There are also special medical conditions that will need to be agreed upon, treatments that may be in the works, schooling concerns, etc.
All of these things you have in place now will need to be continued, and a lawyer can help ensure your wishes are being met.
At Lilac City Law, we understand how difficult it can be to think about granting guardianship to someone else when you are no longer around to parent.
When you contact us, an experienced family & estate planning attorney will be willing to sit with you and walk you through the entire process.
If you only have questions to make sure you are on the correct path, we can answer them. Your children are the most important consideration when estate planning, and we want to be the ones you can count on to make the choices that will bring you peace of mind. Contact us today.