Having the proper legal documentation in place means your wishes will be carried out for the care of your minor children. There are some important considerations to be made when choosing a guardian.
One of the first things parents tend to consider is financial ability. This makes sense. After all, you want to ensure your children are raised comfortably and you are not putting undue burden on the guardian you choose. This fact alone is enough to encourage parents to contact a Savannah estate planning attorney in the first place.
But, there are other considerations to keep in mind, many of which are arguably even more important than financial means. For example, parents should choose a guardian whose values are consistent with their own. Does your family strongly value education or do you have devout religious beliefs? Choosing a guardian who shares these values should probably be a high priority.
One other thing to ask your attorney about is something very important that most people, inclduing most estate planning attorneys, don’t know anything about and don’t think about. Naming a guardian in your will is very important and if you die, your will is what will control who will be your child’s guardian, but what happens if both parents are left incapacitated. This is what happened to a Savannah family some years ago when both parents were left in a coma after a car wreck. In cases like that, where the proper planning has not been put into place, the courts are required to appoint a guardian that may not be the person you would choose. There is a simple way to protect your child in a circumstance like this. It’s called a Designated Standby Guardianship and not many estate planning attorneys are even aware it exists. The purpose of the Designated Standby Guardianship is for you to name a short term (120 days) guardian who can take over and care for your children if you are left incapactitated. Be sure to ask your attorney about one when you sit down to talk. If they haven’t heard of it, then you might be better served by looking elsewhere for help with your estate planning.
Of course, you do need to consider the guardian’s ability to support your children. This is precisely why you need to work with an estate planning attorney in Savannah. Not only will he or she help you put together the legal documentation required to name a guardian, but this professional will also help you create the financial means for your child(ren)’s care.
An attorney may assist you in creating any number of trusts which can be used for your child’s upbringing. Money from these trusts can be used for basic care, as well as earmarked for future education. While you won’t be there physically, you can still help guide your children’s future. And, you will have much more influence when you choose a guardian who will raise your children with similar morals and values to your own.
Other things to consider when choosing a guardian for your child:
- Do they have a similar parenting style to your own?
- Is your child already comfortable with this person?
- Are they willing to take on the responsibility?
- Will they be emotionally able to care for your children after your death?
After putting considerable thought into your choice, work with a trusted estate planning attorney in Savannah to make your decision legal and binding.