Legal Guardianship for Children

As a parent, it is your responsibility to ensure that your children are safe and well-cared for at all times – even after you pass away. To meet this obligation, you will need to spend some time thinking about who should care for them when you are gone.  We’ve put together a short guide on how to choose a legal guardian for children.  This is not meant to be exhaustive but rather a starting point for things to consider.  Before you select someone, you should consider the following factors:

Their Willingness

You do not want your kids to have to live with someone who does not want them. As such, it is always wise to talk to the people that you are considering naming as legal guardian to see if they are even interested in the role. If they are not, it may be best to move on to another candidate.

Their Role as a Trustee

In the state of California, it is perfectly legal to name one person as a trustee and a legal guardian in your will. However, it may not be a good idea.

When a single person fulfills both of these roles, conflicts of interest are all but certain to arise – since the optimal strategy for your finances may not necessarily align with the best interests or immediate needs of your kids.

Should you have any questions about the role that a trustee will play in your kids’ lives, you may wish to speak with a California estate planning attorney. They will be able to provide you with the answers you need.

Their Spouse

When naming legal guardians for their kids, many people choose a married couple. In doing so, however, they give both spouses equal claim to the guardianship of their children. Should the couple subsequently get divorced, this can often present some significant logistical and emotional challenges for all involved.

To avoid this issue, you may wish to award guardianship of your kids to just one of the two partners in a marriage. Should the couple choose to separate, your children would then continue to live with the named guardian.

Their Finances

Raising young kids can be quite an expensive undertaking. As such, you would be wise to consider an individual’s finances before naming them as a legal guardian in your will.

If you want to feel confident that your chosen guardian has the financial resources needed to look after your kids, you could also take out a life insurance policy and name them as a beneficiary. Your San Diego family lawyer can help you put this arrangement together.

Their Values

If you have raised your kids to respect other people and to understand the difference between right and wrong, you will no doubt be keen to ensure that they hold on to those values after you pass away. As such, you should try to leave them in the care of a legal guardian that shares your outlook on life.

Their Location

It is generally advisable to minimize the amount of disruption that children experience after their parent passes away. So, when choosing a legal guardian, you may want to opt for one that lives near your current home. Doing so will allow your kids to stay in the same school and keep interacting with their friends every day.

Their Age

When selecting a legal guardian for their kids, many people choose one of their own parents. However, as those parents age, it may become difficult for them to keep up with the physical demands of looking after young children.

Should you wish to avoid putting too much stress and strain on your parents as they get older, it may be best to name a younger friend or family member as your kids’ legal guardian.

Your Trusted California Estate Planning Attorney

Hopefully, this helps you begin the process of how to choose a legal guardian for your children.  As parents ourselves, we have personally gone through the process of choosing a guardian and it was not easy.  Do you need a San Diego family lawyer to help you select a legal guardian for your kids and formalize your choice in a will? If so, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Semanchik Law Group at (619) 535-1811. We are always ready, willing, and able to assist.