Guardians for Your Minor Children

Text below is taken from Rehberg Law Group’s February Newsletter. We are excited to have them come and talk to us this March regarding estate planning and wills. Hopefully, the text below would be a good intro to some of the things that us moms should be thinking about. 


Did You Really Mean John and Jane Doe or Did You Just Mean Janeunnamed (1)

If you have minor children, an important part of your estate plan is choosing a guardian and a successor guardian to look after your children if you are gone.  In your Will, you can state who will look after your children if you pass away; and, in your Power of Attorney,  you can state who can look after your children if you are alive, but temporarily unable to do so.

You can choose to name whomever you wish as the guardian for your children. Most people pick someone they trust, who is a good parent, and whose values coincide with their own.  One common choice is to pick a couple, perhaps a sibling and spouse or friend and spouse.  But the question is, did you really mean you wanted both your sister,Jane, and your brother-in-law,John, as your children’s guardian, or did you really just mean Jane.

It seems normal to name a couple to be the guardian of your children; after all, they are married and live together. However, choosing a couple is not always the best choice.  If your sister divorces her husband do you want them to have a custody battle over your children or would you prefer that your sister immediately have custody.  If they already have marital difficulties that may be an important distinction to make.  On the other hand, if your brother-in-law takes your children to the hospital do you want him to have the authority to make medical decisions or do you want to limit those to just your sister?  If John is not named as the guardian he will not have legal authority to make decisions for your children.

Choosing the appropriate guardian for your children is an important decision, one that should be made after considering the benefits and drawbacks to your choices.  Check your estate planning documents and look to see who you have named.  If you named John and Jane, ask yourself if you really meant both, or did you really just mean Jane.


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