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Principled Advocacy For Families And Individuals With Disabilities And The Professionals Who Serve Them

3 tips for selecting a guardian when estate planning

On Behalf of | Dec 2, 2023 | Estate Planning

Although estate planning is a smart move for most adults, many people don’t create an estate plan solely for their own protection. Instead, they only consider drafting documents when they worry about other people in their lives. An estate plan allows someone to choose beneficiaries for their resources and also provide key forms of support for their closest family members.

An estate plan may include a will that allows someone to serve as a guardian for minor children. That designation can be one of the most important choices and adult will make when planning an estate. How can an Illinois parent confidently select a guardian capable of supporting their children if a tragedy should occur?

Think about stability

Parents provide children with crucial structure for their daily lives. From retaining a home where the children feel safe to getting them to school on time every day, parents play a key role in helping children learn how to navigate the world. A guardian will need to take over those responsibilities when a parent dies. Therefore, it is crucial to choose a guardian who is capable of sticking to a schedule and providing children with proper structure. Their ability to remain in the same community can also be an important consideration when trying to keep the lives of children predictable after the loss of their parents.

Think about longevity

It is natural for someone with young children to turn to their own parents for support when they think about their children being vulnerable. However, grandparents are often not ideal candidates for guardianship in an estate plan. Their age means that they could potentially die before the parents do, forcing them to update their wills with new guardians. Additionally, grandparents and other older adults could experience age-related health issues that could compromise the level of support they can provide for the children. Choosing someone young enough to be actively involved with the children and healthy until they reach adulthood is very important.

Talk with the candidates

Even an ideal guardian candidate could be the wrong choice if they aren’t enthusiastic about accepting the role. All too often, people make assumptions that the individuals they would select as guardians would view that as an honor. For many people, however, accepting a guardianship role is a heavy burden. It is therefore important for those putting together an estate plan to talk about guardianship designations with the individuals they consider to ensure that they are open to accepting that responsibility. Otherwise, the children could still end up in foster care after their parents die.

Taking the time to carefully consider who could serve as a guardian can reduce how difficult life is for one’s children if they ever lose their parents.