Women and Money: Protect Your Children… Who should you choose to be your child’s guardian?

That, I’ve found in my 27 years of estate planning, is the most difficult question for couples to agree on and the most common reason they keep revising their estate planning documents.

Factors to consider in selecting guardian(s) include the maturity of the person, whether he or she has a true concern for your children’s welfare, and whether he or she has the ability and time to handle the extra responsibilities. What would adding your children to that person’s household do to all concerned? Does he or she have children close to the ages of yours? Does he or she share your religious focus, moral beliefs and overall value system? Is he or she willing to take on the responsibility of raising your children?

This is a legal responsibility. The guardian will decide everything from where your children live, what schools they attend, where they worship, and what kind of medical care they get.

My suggestion is to come to as good a decision as you can, knowing that you can always change it. But make that decision now. If you put off choosing a guardian and you both die while your children are minors, anyone who is interested can ask the court to be appointed guardian. The judge will then decide – without the benefit of your input – who will do the best job of raising your children. The person the judge chooses may not even be someone on your “short list” of possibilities!

A person or a couple? Do you want to name your sister as your child’s guardian or should you name your sister and her husband? There are pros and cons on either side of that decision. If you name just one, the other may harbor resentment and never fully participate in your child’s upbringing. On the other hand, if you name both people in the couple to be guardians and they divorce, then your child will be part of that divorce proceeding.

Name successor guardians, if at all possible. Your first choice may not be in the right phase of life to act, as a result of divorce, disability, financial hardship or problems with his or her own teenagers, and having successors named makes it easier for everyone.

Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning.  She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about.  Annino recently announced the release of an updated version of her successful book, Women and Money: A Practical Guide to Estate Planning to include recent changes in the laws that govern how we protect our assets during and beyond our lifetime.  Annino’s book is an exhortation, resource and trusted companion for women in all facets of life.  To purchase the book visit:  http://amzn.to/hOHuEV or for more about Annino, visit: www.patriciaannino.com


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