If you have minor children, you have probably had a “plane crash” nightmare: You and your spouse are on an airplane when it plunges from the sky leaving your kids at home with Grandma and Grandpa – for the rest of their lives.
This scenario should alert you to an important part of estate planning: Who do you want raising your children into adulthood if the unthinkable happens?
Many factors go into choosing a guardian for your children or a substitute if your first choice is unable to serve. Among the characteristics to consider:
- Similar values and lifestyle
- Good sense of responsibility
- Good health
- Physically fit and good at handling finances
- Likes children and has a nurturing personality
This list is just to get you thinking.
There are actually two aspects when considering a guardian: One is that the guardian will serve as the guardian of the child and, in other words, taking care of the personal needs of the child or children. The second aspect is financial: Will that person be responsible for the finances or will there be a separate trustee who has the duty of prudent investing of the assets and following the directions left in a trust as to how the money is to be spent for the children and when they would get the ultimate distribution of the estate that you leave.
There is a general inclination of parents to avoid the guardianship issues, but it is not something you really want to delay; it’s too important a responsibility to leave to chance.