Trusting Your Choice for The Guardian of Minor Children

Simple decisions are hard to come by in parenting, but few are more challenging that deciding who would care for your child in the event that you were no longer able to do so. Today, Sona A. Tatiyants, esq. will share her wisdom in this area with our “peers.”

Choosing a Guardian for Minor Children

There are few things more special than the trust a child has in a parent. Trust is that intangible, but irreplaceable piece of any relationship.  When I think about trust, it brings to mind a critical component to estate planning. If you weren’t able to care for your child, who would you trust to do it?

As an estate planning attorney, I’ve learned that my clients often have the most difficult time when it comes to naming guardians for their children. Parents are wired to worry about their kid’s everyday lives: health, development, and happiness. So, worrying about something so unimaginable could be easily put off.

The discussion with your significant about choosing a guardian can further raise a whole host of complicated issues. I’ve seen firsthand how going through this process can sometimes bring up negative feelings about each other’s relatives and friends. No wonder it’s something parents often avoid. But the hard reality is that not having the conversation can create even more complications at a time when you won’t be able to advocate for you child.

The following list will help parents start a conversation in this process. As a starting point, I tell my clients to first make a list of all potential people or couples you would consider naming as your children’s guardians. Then consider the following guidelines for each potential person or couple:

  • Place of residence, both geography and their home.

Is your child staying in the same school important? Will this change as they get older? Would the guardian need to move to a larger home or consider moving into your home?

  • Educational and cultural background

Would the potential guardian be open to fostering a cultural identity in your child you find important? Would they place the same value on education you do?

  • Religious and spiritual affiliations

If you are hoping to raise your children with a religious affiliation, will your guardian respect and encourage it? If you are not religious, will your guardian respect that?

  • Primary language spoken at home

Is bilingualism a priority in your home now? Do you speak a language at home you’d like to ensure your children learn? Does your chosen guardian speak the same language at home that your children are used to?

  • Whether potential guardians have their own children

It may be important to consider if the guardian has children already or plans to have them. Do your children get along? Is there an age difference that would make the situation complicated?

  • Parenting philosophy and the discipline they use with their own children

Would you feel confident that the potential guardian has a parenting philosophy that would feel consistent for your children so that the transition is smooth? Are you comfortable with your understanding of how the use discipline?

  • Current relationship with your children

Does your child know the guardian well? Do they get along? Even if you feel close to someone, there may be an equally suitable choice who is a better fit with your child’s personality.

  • Lifestyle choices, including smoking, drinking, eating and exercising habits.

What is non-negotiable for the environment your children live in? What habits and choices do you hope are fostered? Will your nominee support and encourage them?

Be open to your partner’s choices and work together to find a person or couple who will be a good fit for your children. While it might be incredibly hard to make the choice among your family or close friends, it’s imperative that you do.  You may fear hurt feelings, but the alternative is a guardian who is not your first choice.

Remember, if you don’t do this yourself, the decision will be left to a judge, who does not know you, your preferences or your children to decide on a guardian.  Most importantly, naming guardians yourself will avoid fights between a husband and wife’s side of the family and protect your families and your children from needless friction and heartache at what may already be an impossibly hard time.

It may also make sense for you to consider a joint guardianship. This allows you to choose a primary guardian within a first couple and determine that if they divorce that your children go to that guardian or a second still-married couple also chosen by you. And yes, there is a way to prevent someone you strongly feel should not be your child’s guardian. You can make an “anti-guardian” nomination in the same document and provide specific reasons for your decision.

Want to Learn More About These and Other Important Mommy-Related Legal Topics?

Join Kristal and Kimberly to learn from Sona and her colleagues at Mom, Esq. event on May 9th from 6:00-8:00pm at Mom, Esq. Headquarters. At this event you will learn all about…

  • Legal aspects of growing your family through assisted reproductive technology and adoption
  • Maternity leave benefits, reinstatement rights, and employing nannies and baby nurses in your home
  • How an estate plan can protect your children and family, and safeguard your assets
  • Your finances and how to save for your kids education, get out of debt and invest for your own financial future
  • The latest information about fertility care and technology to meet each woman’s unique medical, emotional and financial needs
  • Your self-care needs and how to get more support through the process of individual, couples or group therapy
Click here to register for the event.

 

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 Sona A. Tatiyants

Described by her clients as “the perfect lawyer for the job,” Sona A. Tatiyants understands the ever-changing and complex world of estate planning. As a wife and mother, Sona understands how overwhelming the world of estate planning can feel for a family. As an experienced lawyer, she knows just how important it is to have one in place. Just like no family is the same, no family’s estate plan is the same. With a deep understanding of the law and the tax-related complexities of her field, Sona works to personalize your family’s plan.

Contact

Learn more about Sona A. Tatiyants’s legal services on her website, call her at 818.956.9200 , email her at @info@tatiyantslaw.com, tweet with her @SonaTatiyants and/or follow her on Facebook!

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  1. [...] for our children’s future is one of the many important jobs we must do as parents. Click here to read part one of the series which offers tips for how to choose a guardian for your minor [...]