Who should you appoint as the guardian for your children?

Appointing a guardian is one of the key functions of a will. Both Idaho and Washington are states allowing “parental appointment”. That means, if the parent has nominated someone to be a guardian in their will, the court will appoint that person as a matter of course during the probate, unless cause is shown otherwise. This, thankfully, is a streamlined process, allowing the guardian to take up their duties with minimal trouble.

Now who should you appoint?

This is an important question, and is often the biggest motivator for parents in creating their estate plan. For any parent, their children are the center of their life, and the care of the children is critical. Who you choose as a guardian ultimately depends upon the circumstances and relationships in which you find yourself; however, there are several key factors to consider.

  1. The first thing to look for is a person who you trust. This seems like it should go without saying, but you would be surprised how many people simply go with convenience, since they believe there is a low chance of that guardian actually being needed.

  2. A second consideration is someone who shares many of the same values and morals. As parents, we all have values that we wish to pass on to our children. Choose someone whose values and ethics line up with yours. That way, you will ensure that many of the things you wanted to pass on to your children will indeed be conveyed to them.

  3. Third, take into account energy, financial situation, and existing responsibilities of potential guardians. Think about if the guardian you have in mind has the time and energy to care for your children. Grandparents are commonly selected as guardians, and they can be a great choice, but consider their age and health and whether they will have the physical and emotional bandwidth to care for the children. Finances are another consideration. Hopefully you have life insurance and other financial provisions for your children, but consider the financial situation you will be leaving for your children’s guardians. I definitely encourage you to have these conversations with potential guardians.

  4. Finally, do consider where a potential guardian lives. One of the most important principles for helping your children with trauma in the case of your unexpected passing, is to keep as many things in their lives the same as possible. It is ideal to find a guardian who lives near you, so that your children may maintain ties in their school, church, town, and friendships.

Those are some considerations in who to appoint as guardian. Hopefully, your guardian will never have to take up his/her duties, but knowing that you have loving guardians established in the event of tragedy will bring peace of mind and a sense of preparedness.

Lastly, weigh these factors carefully, but remember that a good decision that is made is far superior than not deciding because you are looking for perfection. For my own family, we had to consider these factors. We prioritized local guardians we trusted who shared our faith and values, but when it came to the practical considerations, we had to weigh the age and energy of grandparents with the facts that most other friends and family members also had large families of their own, and would suddenly find themselves with 7, 8, or 9 children should they suddenly receive our 4 as their own. Obviously, both situations have their challenges, so we discussed those factors together and with family members involved to come to the conclusion that we believe is best for our family.

If you have any questions about this, or anything else relating to estate planning, do not hesitate to call us or email us.

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Eifert Law Firm

At Eifert Law Firm, we are committed to constantly honing our expertise and to continue learning and innovating to give you the best counsel in estate planning, probate, estate administration, and business law.

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