What a thrill to celebrate the birth of a new baby, and if it's the first baby, there are many "first time" experiences to be enjoyed. In addition, there are some important "first time" decisions to be made, like naming a guardian.
Selecting a guardian is not an easy decision, and parents should take time to discuss all of the aspects of their choice. Once decided, the name(s) should be included in estate planning documents. Sometimes this is the primary reason married couples write their first will.
The Inside Indiana Business gives us factors to consider in its recent article, "Who Will Raise Your Child?"
- Values. Determine the important values you would like the chosen guardian to have such as moral and social standards, similar educational values, and practicing a particular religion.
- Personality. Although you want your guardian to take his or her responsibilities seriously, you also want to look at qualities like maturity, humor, patience, and his or her relationship with your children.
- Parenting Skills and Lifestyle. If your chosen guardian isn't a parent now, would his or her lifestyle be compatible with suddenly becoming a parent?
- Age and Location. Consider the age of the guardians when your children go off to college. Will a grandparent, if selected, be able to meet the needs of active children? Location is also a consideration.
There are no "right or wrong" characteristics for a guardian, and as your children get older, their needs may cause you to believe a different person may be a better choice. In the same light, a guardian's situation may change, and you may need to name someone else. You can change the guardian whenever you want by revising your will.
In addition, you should designate a second person to serve if your first choice is unable or unwilling.
When it comes to handling the money issues, you can choose someone other than the guardian to be named as the trustee. Having two people, the trustee and guardian, agree on financial issues may produce the best outcome for the children because the skills needed for each job are vastly different.
If you don't choose a guardian and circumstance arises, a court will name a guardian for your minor children. It may or may not be your preference. In Alabama, only by naming a guardian in your will can you let your wishes be known.
Reference: Inside Indiana Business (February 22, 2016) "Who Will Raise Your Child?"