Grandparent with grandson on his lap petting a dog

Difficult Conversations, Part III: Guardianship for Minor Children

You are a young and growing family. Your young child is now 2 and you are starting to come out of the haze of having an infant. Now, you may have the wherewithal to tackle estate planning matters. Many of my clients come to me for the first time when their first child is about 2 years old and they want to appoint a guardian for that child.

This is the most sensitive and difficult, but critical, topic I must address with my clients.

Starting a conversation about who should be the guardian for your minor children if something happens to you is a responsible and important step for any young family. Here are some steps that you can take to have this discussion:

Schedule a time to talk: Set aside a time when both you and your partner are free to discuss the topic without any distractions.

Decide on a list of potential guardians: Create a list of potential guardians that you both agree would be suitable for your children. Consider factors such as their age, lifestyle, values, and proximity to your home.

Discuss the pros and cons of each candidate: Go through the list of potential guardians and discuss the pros and cons of each candidate. Make sure that you both have a clear understanding of why each person was chosen or not chosen.

Consider your children’s wishes: If your children are old enough to understand the situation, consider asking them for their input. While ultimately the decision is up to you, it is important to consider their wishes.

Make a decision: Once you have discussed all of the factors, make a decision on who should be the guardian for your children. I often tell clients to think in terms of 3-5 years for this decision. Do not become paralyzed by trying to pick the perfect person at each stage of your child’s life.

Discuss with the chosen guardian: Before making it official, it is important to discuss your decision with the chosen guardian. Make sure they are willing and able to take on the responsibility.

Make it legal: Work with a lawyer to make your decision official. This will ensure that your wishes are legally binding and will be carried out if something happens to you.

Remember, this can be a difficult conversation to have, but it is important to have it to ensure that your children will be taken care of if something happens to you.