One of the common frustrations I’ve heard from other parents that don’t have an estate plan in place is that they don’t know how to choose a guardian for their children.
As a result, they don’t pick anyone, and they fail to put a plan in place.
Needless to say, this is a big problem.
Remember when you were younger and you took the SAT? Back then, if you got to a question that you didn’t know the answer to, you guessed because if you left it blank, you didn’t get any points.
But if you guessed right, you got credit for that answer.
Choosing a guardian for your kids is kind of like that… except we are talking about your kid’s lives, not the answer to a stupid test question.
Failing to put a plan in place because you just “aren’t sure” who to pick as a guardian is irresponsible and frankly, stupid.
You are pretty much guaranteeing that your kids would end up with someone you wouldn’t have chosen.
So what can you do about it?
You need to make a choice. That’s what.
You need to sit down and decide who you would want to raise your kids if you and your spouse are no longer available to raise them yourself.
Here’s a quick 6-step process for how you can pick guardians for your kids.
How to Choose a Guardian for your Children in Six Quick Steps
Step #1. Make a list of up to five people (can be individuals or couples), whom you would want to raise your children if you and your spouse were unable to do so. Don’t worry about geographic location, or whether or not they are family. Also, you don’t need to worry about the order that you list these people in – you can revise that later. Right now it is just important that you list anyone who could step in to raise you children.
Step #2. Let’s say that you can’t think of five people. What now? Don’t freak out. Let’s start small. Can you think of two people? Remember, if you fail to name anyone, and something happens to you and your spouse, then the decision for who raises your children would be a judge who doesn’t know you, and doesn’t know your children.
Step #3. Still stuck? Think about who you would want to handle the financial matters as they relate to your children. You would need to name someone to deal with these issues in your will or trust, perhaps this is someone you could entrust with your children?
Step #4. If you are still having a hard time coming up with someone, then let’s work backwards. List out the people who you absolutely would NOT want raising your kids. Make sure you put the foster care system at the top of your list, because if you don’t come up with someone better, then your kids could end up in foster care. Remember, you are not limited to family members. Consider friends from work, school, church, your neighborhood, etc.
Step #5. By now you should have at least a few people listed. Take some time and list out the pros and cons to having each of these people raise your children. Then you can start to decide who the first, second, etc. choice should be for raising your kids.
Step #6. Put your plan down in writing. It’s great that you have chosen your potential guardians, but now you need to codify these choices in writing. You can either contact our office and we can help you put a KEAP™ Your Kids Safe plan together for you.