Recently, we discussed the importance of choosing the right administrators for your estate -- the executors and trustees who will help ensure that your wishes are carried out. However, if you have children, the choice of a guardian is probably the most important decision you'll make as you develop your plan.
Choosing a guardian can be stressful. You may hurt someone's feelings by not choosing them -- particularly if you have a large family. However, people must make the choice that's in their kids' best interests.
It's not just a matter of which family members or friends you're closest to or get along with best. There are a number of other factors to consider. Following are a few:
Your parents may have the most experience and be the most qualified. However, they're not getting any younger. If and when the times comes that they'd have to step in, they may not have the energy or ability to care for a child. Further, raising a child today is very different than it was even a couple of decades ago.
On the other hand, choosing a sibling who's just out of college may not be wise. They're just starting their own life as an adult and may not be prepared or have the support system to raise a child.
Ideally, you want to choose someone whose morals, religious beliefs and maybe even political views align with your own. You want your child to be raised with the values you would have instilled in them. No one is going to be completely aligned with your beliefs, but you want someone who shares much of your value system.
Many people choose guardians who are married and have children. Of course, there's no guarantee the marriage will last. If you choose a single person who's willing to take on the responsibility, what if they meet someone who doesn't want a ready-made family? The important thing is that the person or couple you choose will be committed to raising your child no matter what their future brings.
Once you choose a guardian and that person agrees to the responsibility, your Tennessee estate planning attorney will help you put the proper documents in place. Although you hope they'll never be needed, you want the transition to be as smooth as possible for the guardian and particularly for your children.