A last will is a legal document that allows a person to dictate how their estate should be divided to their beneficiaries. If you are a parent with children under the age of 18, you may also consider naming a legal guardian within the will. The legal guardian will take care of your children in case you become unable to. Establishing guardianship will ensure that your children will be taken care of by a trusted individual.
Appointing a Guardian
Naming a guardian does not guarantee that your children will be entrusted to them. There is no document created before death that can legally appoint a guardian. However, there is a high possibility that the person mentioned in the will will become the guardian if you clearly explain the reasoning behind your choice. If you do not suggest a legal guardian for your children before death, the court will have the authority to appoint a guardian. The court may appoint someone you did not wish to have custody over your children, such as an ex-spouse.
According to they law, the guardian must be an adult - someone of 18 years or older - and be stable both physically and mentally. Naming a personal guardian may be a difficult decision and it is important to take every aspect of child-care into consideration. The person you name as the guardian must act in the best interest of your child.
In California, it is legal to name more than one guardian for your child; however, this may lead to disputes between co-guardians. If you prefer that two people care for your child and act as co parents, make sure their relationship is strong, and that they will both be able to put the needs of the child before their own. Most people name the child's grandparents as the prospective guardian, but the age and health of certain relatives may be an issue. It is important to keep in mind that the guardian should be in physical and mental good condition in order to be able to raise a child.
Factors to Consider
Some factors to consider when appointing a legal guardian include personal and religious values. You want your guardian to have values that align to yours so that your child is raised the same way you would have raised him or her. The prospective guardian must also have enough time to care for a child. For example, a person who works full time and lives alone may not be a good candidate because they will not have enough time to properly raise a child.
The location where the prospective guardian resides should also be taken into consideration. It is best for your child to remain close to any other family members or important people in their lives. If you have more than one child, you will have to make the decision of whether or not they should live together after your death. Usually the parent will want to keep their children together, but you must take into consideration whether or not the potential guardian is able to care for more than one child emotionally and financially.
Another important factor is the financial situation of the potential guardian. The guardian must be financially capable of supporting the child until the child has access to their inheritance. Some parents choose to name another person besides the guardian to handle the child's inheritance. This prevents any one person from having too much control over the matters in a child's life.
Responsibilities of the Guardian
Before naming the guardian that will care for your child, talk to the person of your choice. You must thoroughly explain to them the way you want your child to be raised after your death. They must be willing to care for your child, and the child's best interest before their own. Because you will not be there to support your child, you must ensure that the person looking after them will make smart decisions in caring for them.
Undoubtedly, children will have a difficult time adjusting to life after the death of a parent. It is important for the parent to help ease the transition by naming a trusted individual as a guardian who will provide the best care for their child in their will. Although a last will cannot truly create a guardianship, it can help parents persuade the courts that a certain individual is the most qualified candidate to become the legal guardian.