By Allen Starrett, Managing Attorney at Starrett Law Firm
Generally speaking, a court will appoint a guardian to raise a child if both parents die while the child is still a minor. By nominating a guardian in your last will and testament, you ensure that the court has your exact wishes in mind when appointing your child’s guardian. This is clearly one of the most important estate planning decisions you will make as a parent. It can also be one of the most difficult.
If you are stuck selecting the right person to serve as guardian, here are three common considerations that may help you make an appropriate nomination:
1. Consider your guardian’s values and beliefs. Ideally, the guardian will share similar values and beliefs. If you are unsure, then schedule some time to discuss your proposed guardian’s philosophy on raising children, morals, religion, money, education, and other topics that are important to you. While it is unlikely that you and the guardian will feel the same way on every issue, the greater the similarities, the more peace of mind you will have knowing that he or she will be a good fit to raise your child.
2. Consider where your guardian lives. All else being equal, the court prefers local guardians. With a local guardian, your child isn’t uprooted from the community and placed in an unfamiliar environment. At the same time, the court will resist forcing your child’s guardian to move into your home or city. It is possible that your child will be sent to live with his or her guardian. So consider where your proposed guardian lives and if you are satisfied with the thought of the guardian raising your child there if necessary.
3. Consider that you can change your mind later. If you are stuck choosing a guardian because you fear making a bad selection, this is both common and understandable. It usually helps to recognize that no one can ever replace a child’s mother or father, so don’t seek the perfect replacement parent. Instead, assess your options and select the best candidate to serve as guardian. Rest assured you can update your selection later if you change your mind. In this situation, there is no question – choosing someone is better than choosing no one.
Nominating a guardian to raise your child is no small task. The above considerations should assist you in making your selection. Without it, a court will be forced to appoint your child’s guardian without your guidance.
If you have questions concerning this post, feel free to contact Allen at (704) 887-4944 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Charlotte, NC 28277
Disclaimer: Our firm published this article for general guidance and educational purposes only. Contact a licensed attorney in your state for specific legal advice.