There is a lot that goes into creating an estate plan. If you have children under the age of 18, it's critical to name a guardian. This is the person who will raise your children should you and your spouse pass on.
Since this is such a big decision, it's one that requires your full and undivided attention. Furthermore, you don't want to put it off, as doing so will only add more stress to your life.
Here are five tips you can follow to help choose the right guardian for your children:
- Decide on what's important to you: You may have several choices, so you really need to narrow down what's important to you in a parent. For example, you may want to name a guardian who shares the same values as you.
- Think about your spouse's feelings: This is not a time for you and your spouse to argue. For example, you want your sister to be named guardian but your spouse feels the same about one of their siblings. Rather than argue, discuss the pros and cons of each individual.
- Look beyond your family: While most people name someone in their immediate family guardian, this doesn't have to be the case. You should consider extended family, as well as close friends.
- Ask for permission: Even if you choose a close family member, you must still ask for permission to name them as guardian of your children. Not only is this a big decision for you, but the same holds true for the person you ask. Let them know you'll give them as much time as they need to make a final decision.
- Focus on the legalities: You can't name a guardian, tell the person what this means and then leave well enough alone. You have to make it legal by including it in your estate plan.
There is no right or wrong way to choose a guardian for your children. This is a big decision that everyone tackles in their own way.
As long as you put enough thought into the process, you'll eventually settle on the person who makes the most sense. At that point, you can add this to your estate plan and feel better about your future.