While it’s true that much of the estate planning process centers around naming beneficiaries for inheritance purposes, there is much more to it than this. A will and other estate planning documents allow you to provide care options for your minor children should something happen to you.
One thing you may want to consider is naming a legal guardian. This is someone, or people, who are tasked with caring for your children should you become incapacitated. This is a big decision and there are many factors to think about. Outlined below are a few things to keep in mind.
Are they physically fit?
Raising minor children is rewarding but it certainly isn’t easy. It can take its toll both emotionally and physically. Your first instinct may be to name your own parents as guardians, or other older relatives who have had children in the past. But, is it really realistic to expect people who are now getting on in age to cope with the physical demands of raising young children?
Are their views compatible?
If you follow a certain religious faith or specific way of life, then this is something you want to factor in when choosing a guardian. If you’re looking outside of the family, would your named guardians raise the child in a similar way that you would? How important is the specific lifestyle to you? Is there room for compromise or not?
Do you have alternatives?
It’s important to remember that you are not limited to choosing one guardian. You can have alternates in case someone isn’t up to the task — and this is wise, given how uncertain life can be.
Choosing a legal guardian is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make, but it is certainly worthwhile. During the estate planning process, make sure you have legal guidance on your side.