“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
Kids change just about everything, don’t they?
The moment you hold your baby in your arms, you begin to see life through a different lens.
You drive differently, you talk differently, you plan and dream for the future differently. Life isn’t just about you anymore – it’s about this little person that came from you and depends upon you.
Guardians – Choosing Wisely
Part of this change means considering scenarios you’ve never had to think through before. You start thinking about how to provide for and protect your child through the various possibilities of what life might throw your way. One of the questions you need to ask yourself is, “What will happen to my child if I die or become unable to care for them?”.
Though it’s unpleasant to think about, it’s vital to know how to choose a legal guardian for your child in case a tragedy occurs.
This is a decision you’ll want to put a lot of thought into making, because whomever you choose could end up raising, influencing, and potentially changing the whole course of your child’s life.
Two Types of Child Guardians
There are two types of possible guardians for your child, and you should have them both:
The first type of guardian is your child’s custodian.
The custodian is someone who is responsible for your child’s day-to-day care. They will be the person tucking them in at night, getting them ready for school, walking them through tough situations, nurturing them, and playing the role of a parent if you are no longer able to.
The second type of guardian is your child’s money manager.
The money manager oversees your child’s finances. They’ll be in charge of your child’s inheritance until your child reaches an appropriate age to manage it themselves.
Below you’ll find three key tips to on how to choose these guardians for your child:
How To Choose A Guardian For Your Child
Separate the Custodian from the Money Manager:
Many people make their child’s custodian and money manager the same person, but we recommend against this decision. We’ve seen quite a few instances where custodians have misused, even in minor and unintentional ways, a child’s money. This can be anything from blatantly stealing from your child to simply using their funds in ways that benefit themselves more than your child.
By having the money manager separate from the custodian, you can avoid many of these problems and secure both your child’s care and their finances.
Pick People Based on Values, Not Closeness:
While it might be tempting to just pick people you get along with really well, this isn’t always the best option for families. The people you choose, more than feeling like close friends, should share your values.
You and your child’s custodian should have similar views about the everyday care that children need. It’s even better if he/she already has a relationship with your child as an individual, and is in tune with who they are as a person.
The best fit for a custodian will be someone who is on the same page as you mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and who knows your child well.
Your money manager should be someone you’re confident will share your values about your child’s education, career, future, when and for what purposes money should be released to them, etc.
They will need to be understanding but firm and clear-headed, compassionate but logical, and generous but thrifty. They should have common sense and manage their own finances well. And most importantly, the money manager must have discretion enough to stand up and say no when your child wants to use their money unwisely.
Consider Both Desire and Ability:
The third thing to consider is perhaps the most important. Are the people you have in mind both willing and able? Do they want to fill these roles for your children, and are they capable? Younger parents often choose their parents as their child’s guardians, but you should really think this through – are your parents physically and emotionally able to raise your child as you want them to be raised?
We know it’s a lot to mull over when you’re deciding how to choose a guardian for your child, but you must weigh and consider the strengths of different people before making this important decision.
Having the Conversation
Although the chances of you dying or becoming incapacitated while your child is a minor are slim, it would mean huge changes in the lives of your child, their appointed custodian, and their money manager if it happened.
Once you’ve got people in mind that you’d like to fill these roles, schedule a time with each of them to discuss it. Ask them if being a guardian for your child is something they want to do. If they agree, we encourage you to appoint them as a guardian as soon as possible.
Have more questions about how to choose a guardian for your child or how to legally appoint them? Click here to request your free consultation, we’re happy to walk you through it.