Choosing a Guardian, Part 2: How to Keep Your Children Out of the Wrong Hands

By Chris Tymchuck
Founding Attorney

In a previous post I wrote about how difficult it is for parents to choose guardians for their children; but most parents, even if they are unsure about who they want to serve as guardians, are positive in the knowledge of who they don’t want caring for their children. You hope that creating a nomination of guardians will ensure that your child ends up in loving and capable hands if anything should happen to you, but every once in a while a situation arises where someone unsuitable—or even dangerous—will petition for guardianship.  Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent you children from falling into the wrong hands.

If you’ve already executed (or are planning to execute) a Nomination of Guardians then you’ve taken the first step. But beyond that, you can execute something called an Exclusion of Guardians (also known as an Anti-Nomination of Guardians). In this document you name the person or people who should under no circumstances receive guardianship of your children. In the document you may want to state the reasons why your child should be kept out of the care of this person, but it is not always necessary.

Oftentimes the excluded guardian is a member of the extended family, and parents fear that executing so strong a document might be hurtful or break the peace. If this is the case then you can request that the Exclusion of Guardians be kept confidential. This means that unless and until the excluded guardian tries to gain guardianship over your children it can be stored privately, and there is no need for anyone except you and your attorney to be aware of its existence.

An Exclusion of Guardians may seem like a drastic measure, but there are many valid reasons to execute an Exclusion of Guardians; a history of abuse, financial irresponsibility, mental illness, alcoholism, or other more personal reasons. How are judges to know if a seemingly stable relative is unfit to serve as guardian unless you tell them? This is exactly what an Exclusion of Guardians does.

If you feel strongly about this issue please call my office for more information. You hope the document will never need to be used—never be seen by any eyes other than your own—but when it comes to your children you are always better safe than sorry.

About the Author
As a Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate attorney I help build and protect families through the adoption, estate planning, and probate processes. I also have experience working with families on issues related to their small businesses. I know how difficult it is to find time to plan for the future and I am here to help walk you through it.