The most important estate planning step for those with children

Quite a few people will tell you that you can’t put off estate planning anymore once you become a parent. You might think that the main concern is providing financial resources for your children or reviewing your life insurance policy.

However, the issue that parents most desperately need to address in their estate plans is the naming of a guardian for their children. If you die while your children are still young and their other parent dies too or is otherwise incapable of parenting, a guardian protects your kids.

How do you pick the right person for this crucial role?

Consider their age and current responsibilities

There is a broad range of acceptable ages for guardianship. Generally, you want to name someone who is at least 21 years of age, ideally a bit older than that. However, think about how old someone will be by the time your children reach the age of 18. If it is over the age of 60, they may be too old to realistically serve as guardians for your children.

In addition to age, you need to think about what obligations that person already has. Do they have multiple kids? Do they work 12-hour shifts because they are a nurse? Someone with overwhelming personal responsibilities, a huge family or a demanding career may not be the right candidate.

Responsibility, patience and trustworthiness all matter

It is not just age and family situation that make a good guardian candidate. They also need to be someone who is patient enough to help your children through the emotional pain of losing their family.

They need to be responsible enough to manage your children’s lives and their inheritance until they turn 21. They also need to be someone that you can trust to treat your children with dignity and not abuse their access to the inheritance you leave behind.

Selecting the right guardian for your children will be one of the most pressing parts of your estate plan, which is why you want to handle this difficult matter as soon as possible.

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