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How to Choose the Right Guardians for your Children

image 516Decisions regarding your children and their futures are serious topics and need thoughtful consideration. While some might seem easy, such as which school to send them to or what to get them for their first birthdays, choosing the right guardian – should something happen to you – could drastically affect their lives.

It’s fairly common practice to choose godparents or guardians for your children. But how do you know if you’re choosing the right person? There are certain questions you need to ask yourself before making your choice and guidelines to help you in the process.

First of all, make a list of all the people who you think would be suited to the position of guardian. These must be people that you would actually trust to take care of your children when you are not present. You do not need to limit yourself to close family members, consider extended family and friends too.

Do not base your decision on finances or the size of someone’s property alone. You can help with the finances by taking out life insurance or instruct your trustees to provide funds for your chosen guardian to build an addition on to their home or move to a large house. There are so many options and your choice should rather be based on the quality of parenting the guardian will be able to give.

When going over your list of options, ask yourself whether each person will truly love your child as if he or she was one of their own. Once you have started narrowing down your list, consider the values and belief systems of the potential guardians. Do you agree with their life philosophies? Do they place the same value on education, social and moral values and religion as you do? Imagine your child growing up in a household with these factors and how they would affect your child in the long run.

Ask yourself if the potential guardians are good role models. Are they loving, caring and affectionate? Are they patient and kind? Children need all of these qualities in a parent. Children also need someone that they can look up to, someone that is reliable and responsible.

If you are looking at choosing a couple to act as guardians, it is important that you stipulate that if anything happens to them – a death, a divorce – that you make it clear what you would want to happen. Would you be okay with just one of them acting as the sole guardian if something happened to the other? Do the couple have children of their own? If you so, consider the age gaps between their children and yours. Would they get along? These factors would all make the difference when thinking of a good and well-balanced future household. If they already have their own children, would your child play second fiddle or would they make your child (or children) feel loved no matter what.

Age is a big factor when choosing a guardian. Someone who is quite old may not have the right stamina or necessary health to raise a child. They might not want to raise a young child at their stage of life.

It might seem as if what you’re looking for is a super-hero parent, and that no one on your list can match all the criteria. What you need is to find the best fit possible for your child. In the end, trust your instincts. Make a primary choice and then some back-up choices. It is essential that both you and your spouse agree. Remember to be sensitive to one another – it’s easy to get into arguments about ‘my brother vs your brother’ or ‘my home town vs your home town’. If you can’t seem to decide on the same person, an estate-planning attorney can help your through the process.

It is also worth thinking of a guardianship panel. This can be a group of people who will have your children’s best interests at heart and who can advise them on tricky matters later on should they arise. Choose a combination of friends and relatives to make up the panel.

When you have made your decision, make sure you have all the information in writing. This will be the only way to ensure that your children get placed under the correct guardianship. Also write down the reasons why you chose who you did. This will also help avoid any confusion and potential fighting between family members and friends. Discuss everything with the people involved, so that they are aware of your decisions. They might not feel like they are up to the job! For this reason, it’s good to have a back-up plan.

Visit to download a free blank will template for legal guardianship and fill it out today. Your child’s future depends on it.

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