A parent’s first responsibility is to secure the health and wellness of their children. Still, many parents delay the decision to appoint a legal guardian for their kids in case of incapacitation or death. While death, illness, and other situations are cumbersome topics that many people avoid, they are important to consider.
Passing away and leaving behind minor children is something no one wants to consider. However, the consequences of not making guardianship plans can have long-term, devastating consequences. For example, your child may be sent into foster care and have an uncertain future.
Planning for the care of their child in case of unfortunate circumstances is one of the most beneficial things a parent can do. It is by far the most compelling reason to engage in estate planning.
If you’re contemplating an arrangement for guardianship of your child after death, our experienced California estate planning attorneys at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. share several tips on how to undergo the process.
What Exactly is a Legal Guardian?
A legal guardian, also called a custodial guardian, is someone who has the legal authority and responsibility to care for the personal and property interests of another person. Legal guardianship is one of the options available to parents who are planning for the care of their children in their absence due to a variety of situations, such as illness or death.
An appointed guardian must provide housing, food, medical care, education, protection, and other essentials to the children. Generally, a child requires either parental care or a legal guardian until the age of eighteen.
Determining Guardianship Criteria
The guardian you ask the court to appoint does not need to be related to you. However, careful consideration should be given to family members and longtime friends.
It takes time to consider the qualities of an ideal guardian but putting this effort into the decision-making process will enable you to feel confident in your decision. Talk to your spouse, partner, or anyone who should be involved in the decision about the type of care you want your children to receive. It’s important to discuss:
- The type of beliefs, morals, and education you wish to instill in your kid
- Religious teachings and traditions you would like to pass down
In addition to considering how you would like your child to be raised, you should consider the following circumstances:
- Location: The appointed legal guardian should live in a safe neighborhood. Are there good school districts nearby? There’s a good chance that once the guardian takes full responsibility for your children, they will continue to grow up in that particular environment.
- Financial Situation: The potential guardian’s financial stability is a very important factor to consider, as adding children into the mix will raise their living costs exponentially. Consider setting up a trust for your children so that the guardian can also utilize that as a resource of provision.
- Stage of Life: When searching for guardian candidates, their age and stage of life is yet another crucial factor. A young guardian might be too focused on their career and starting a family of their own to care for your children; however, an older candidate may place their focus on retirement.
Hopefully, after answering these questions, you can narrow down your choices to a single candidate who’s ready for the responsibility.
What Comes Next?
Many parents utilize a last will to name a guardian for their children. A will is a legal document that takes effect upon death and is used as an instrument to direct the disposition of your assets.
Wills can incorporate a great deal of detail about how you would like your child to be raised, and this can be a useful guide for the guardian. If you’re looking to draft a will and need guidance, contact our experienced estate planning lawyers at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. in California.
Deciding who will raise your child in your absence is one of the toughest decisions you’ll face as a parent, but you do not have to do it alone. We are here to lead you through the entire guardianship process and answer any questions you may have.
Trust our knowledge and professional experience in estate planning. Christopher Botti (a Board-Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law) and Paul Morison have over 60 years of combined experience helping families set up tailored estate plans and can do the same for you. Call (877) 585-1885 to set up your first consultation for free.
Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. has offices in Ventura, Westlake Village, Santa Barbara, Valencia, Bakersfield, and San Luis Obispo, California.