This post continues my series on choosing a guardian for your child(ren). You know how to choose someone to (or not to) raise your child and discussed your decision with the person(s) whom you chose. But you want to be sure to do everything possible to avoid future conflict if anything should happen to you. In that case, I would also suggest explaining your decisions to any important family and/or friends.
- Why you made your choices. This allows you to do everything you can to cut down on future conflicts. If something happens and you have left your child to your best friend, family members may wonder why and put up a fight. But, if you explain to your family why you made your choices (location, age, values) then they will not be surprised when it happens and may even understand why you made these choices.
- Plans for future visits. This goes with the point above in that you can explain that you have made it clear to the guardian that you want them to continue with regular visits with your child.
- What you discussed with your agents. Clarify the list of discussion topics from the above list so that your family also know and understand your wishes for your child’s future.
Discuss your decisions with your child(ren). If you have children that are older, you may want to explain to them who you have chosen to help them through life if anything happens to you. In most cases you will have picked someone they know well and they will understand that choice. Again, it will cut down on any confusion later. If something happens to you, your children will already know where they are going and why.
Letters of explanation. Write a letter to each person whom you believe will be impacted by your choices. This list may include your financial and medical agents, guardian(s), family members, child and/or friends. These can be given out by your attorney at the time specified by you and will allow people to understand your choices at a time when it is crucial that they “get it.”
Providing an explanation of your decisions provides your family and friends with the knowledge that you took the time to come up with a well-though-out plan to provide for the future of your kids. Who knows? That may be enough to avoid future conflict, especially for estate plans for blended or gay families.