6 Common Mistakes Parents Make When Naming a Guardian

All responsible parents plan for their children’s future, but they can still make mistakes. This is especially true when it comes to naming a legal guardian to raise the children if illness or death leaves them unable to do so. These parents have the best intentions but can still fall into one of six common traps that result in unwise decisions.

Mistake No. 1: Limiting their choice of guardian to family members

When it comes to naming a legal guardian, parents are inclined to limit their choices to family members. They put credence in the saying that blood is thicker than water and feel that remaining within a family circle is more stable for the children. This can be true, but it’s not a given. Parents should use their parenting values to guide such a decision, and sometimes that means choosing a longtime family friend instead of (for example) a sibling who does not share your values.

Mistake No. 2: Naming only one guardian

A lot can happen between the time you formalize your will and the advent of any crisis that leaves you unable to care for your children. Your choice of guardian may no longer be suitable for a number of reasons. This possibility alone makes it advisable that you name an alternative guardian in case your first option can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t assume the responsibility when the time comes.

Mistake No. 3: Naming a guardian without letting them know beforehand

Strange as it sounds, people really do appoint guardians for their children in their will, and then fail to advise those individuals of their future responsibility. They either forget to do so or assume that the intended guardians expect the appointment or won’t mind. This is a decision that impacts the future of your children as well as the potential guardian, so always ensure that there are no surprises for anyone involved.

Mistake No. 4: Letting finances guide your decision

You may know a couple who would be perfect guardians for your children in most respects, but you don’t want to impose a financial burden on them. Instead, you give serious thought to your better-off brother and sister-in-law who rarely see your children but are a high-income couple.

Don’t let money concerns motivate you to make a bad decision. Instead, think about setting up trust funds and additional life insurance and authorizing your preferred guardians to access the money for the benefit of the children.

Mistake No. 5: Naming a couple as guardians on the strength of one partner alone

This is a common scenario. You’ve known your best friend since childhood, and also know that he loves your children, so naming him and his wife to act as guardians seems like a logical decision. But is it really? What if something happens to him after you die? Would his wife do a good job raising the children alone? If the answer is yes, then appoint them. If you’re not so sure, it might be a good idea to review other options.

Mistake No. 6: Failing to name short-term guardians

When you appoint legal guardians, you naturally want to think about a long term arrangement. But what if the person or couple lives in another city or even another state? In this case, it’s advisable to name temporary guardians who live close by and can take care of the children until the long term guardians arrive.

You want the best for your children, so don’t take chances with their future. Appointing the best legal guardian for them is one of the most valuable decisions you can ever make for them. If you have questions about naming a guardian in your will or would like to learn more, please do not hesitate to contact Legacy Planning Law Group today!

Written by Legacy Planning Law Group

Legacy Planning Law Group is dedicated to working with individuals and families to help protect the assets they have built throughout their life, and make everything simpler for families who have lost a loved one. We help thoughtful people achieve the peace of mind that comes with planning their personal legacy and passing on family harmony.