Tips for Selecting a California Guardian for Minor Children
Selecting a California guardian for minor children is perhaps the most important part of your California estate plan. The selection of a guardian for minor children is one of the toughest decisions that a parent has to make during the course of estate planning. With a little planning, a lot of the frustration can be removed from the process of selecting a guardian for minor children. Remember your California estate plan is only as good as the decisions you make.
To begin, it is a good idea to make a list of people whose values, morals and judgment are most in line with yours. Once you have that list, select someone on the list who is financially able to be a guardian to your children. The combination of morals, values, judgment, AND financially stability are critical to selecting an effective guardian for your minor children under your California estate plan.
While we focus on the values, morals, and judgment, often parents neglect the financial impact of being named as a guardian. In California, the cost of raising a child has steadily increased as food, clothing, and educational costs have increased nationally. Thus, increasingly serving as guardian can be an economic burden on those not financially up to the task. To avoid this problem it is a good idea to do a little due diligence before you make your selection. Here are four questions you should ask when selecting a guardian for your minor children.
First, “Does this person have the right morals, values, and judgment to be the guardian of my minor children?”
The person you select to be the guardian of your minor children is going to be responsible for raising your children in your absence. As a parent imparting good morals and values is at the core of being a good parent. Thus, the first question we have to ask is does this person have the morals and values that we want our child raised with?
Second, “Will the guardian be capable of managing your children’s assets?"
Raising children is a daunting task in and of itself. It is critically important to make sure that your selection of a guardian is also up to the task of managing any assets that may be set aside for the benefit of your children. If you prefer, you may select separate guardians for your children and their assets and ensure that your children and their assets receive the best care.
Third, “Is this person financially stable?"
Often parents select guardians for their children without consideration as to whether their selection is financially stable. As parents, we all know there are a lot of hidden costs in raising children, having a frank discussion with your prospective guardian can ensure that your decision does not create a financial burden for someone which directly ties into the third and fourth questions I ask parents.
Fourth, “Will the home of your prospective choice for guardian accommodate your children?"
If your prospective guardian lives in an apartment or for instance in a four-bedroom house with three children of their own, how will they accommodate your kids?
Fifth, “How will your guardian determine your children’s living costs?"
While there is no right answer to these questions, the exercise of attempting the answer them can provide very helpful for parents selecting a guardian as part of their broader estate planning.