If you are the parent of young children, have you decided who you want to take care of them in the event of your death or incapacitation? No, this is not a pleasant thing to think about, but it is something for which all parents of minor children in Pennsylvania or elsewhere should prepare. If you do not, you risk leaving your children's lives in the hands of a judge.
It is impossible to predict the future. While the vast majority of parents want to be there to rear their children into adulthood, illness, disability or death happen. To make sure your children are raised by the person or persons you deem fit, you need to name a guardian in your estate plan.
Picking a legal guardian
Picking a person to be the legal guardian of your children is not necessarily an easy task. You may have quite a few people that you feel would be up to the task, or you may have only a select few choices but are unsure if any of them are ready to take on such a responsibility. When choosing a guardian, there are a few factors that you will need to consider that, in the end, can help you make your decision. These include:
- Is the person you have in mind at least 18 years of age?
- Would that individual even be interested in being your children's guardian?
- Can he or she physically handle the job?
- Can he or she financially handle the job?
- Will this person raise your children to your standards?
These are tough questions to answer, but by considering them, you can narrow your pool of candidates and pick the person you truly feel will do the best job at raising and providing for your children.
What happens if I do not name a guardian?
One of two things could happen. One, any relative could petition the court for guardianship, even those with whom you would never dream of leaving your children. Two, a judge can appoint a guardian. In either case, a judge will get the final say in the matter. This is not exactly ideal.
You can give yourself some peace of mind knowing that your children will be taken care of how you want them to be and by whom if you simply name a guardian while going through the estate planning process.