Like most people, you likely think of a Last Will and Testament as an opportunity to decide what will happen to your estate assets after your death. While a Will certainly does serve as a “roadmap” for the distribution of estate assets, it also offers the Testator one other vital opportunity – the ability to nominate a guardian for minor children. In fact, your Will is the only opportunity you will have to let a court know who you would choose as your children’s legal guardian. With that in mind, you need to know how to choose a guardian for your minor child. Ultimately, the choice is yours to make alone to make; however, it may help to consider some common factors used by other when making the same important decision, including:
- Availability – does your prospective guardian have the time to devote to raising a child? Things such as a career or school could effectively make the individual unavailable.
- Parenting philosophy – while it is not critical that you share the exact same parenting philosophies and style, it will make an already volatile and emotional transition period easier if your child does not have to adjust to a completely different set of rules and parenting style.
- Familiarity – by the same token, it will help your child immensely if there is a pre-existing positive relationship between your proposed guardian and your child.
- Proximity – when possible, choose a guardian that lives as close as possible to where you live, or who would be willing to relocate. The older the child, the more important this factor becomes as changing schools and making a whole new set of friends right after losing a parent will undoubtedly be difficult for an older child who has an established group of friends and extra-curricular activities.
- Family status – is the prospective guardian already married? Does he/she already have children? How your child will fit into the current family situation should be taken into account.
- Financial situation – this is a major consideration; although, it is also one that is easily manageable as well. If the proposed guardian is not financially able to take on the costs associated with raising your child you can leave him/her sufficient funds yourself through the use of your estate plan.
- Willingness – do not ever assume someone is willing to be your child’s guardian – even if the person in question is a close family member. Take the time to sit down and discuss the matter prior to deciding on your nomination to ensure that he/she is willing to serve in the position.
If you have additional questions or concerns related to the nomination of a guardian for your minor children, contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.