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  • Amy Privette

Minor Matters: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Name a Guardian!

Naming a guardian to take care of your children if you die before they are old enough to be on their own can be one of the most daunting decisions a young parent has to make in estate planning. In fact, the decision can be so overwhelming that parents often forego estate planning entirely because they cannot get past this one issue. However, if you want to have a say in what happens to your child upon your death, you must have a Will that sets out your choice for guardian.

To help you think through who would be best for your kids, here are 10 questions you should consider.


  1. Who has demonstrated a desire and ability to love and care for your children?

  2. How long will the guardian be needed (e.g., if your child is 2, the guardian will be needed for a maximum of 16 years; if your child is 17, then the guardian will be needed for only a year) and does your ideal person have the patience, energy, stamina, and good health to do the job for the length of time needed?

  3. Whose parenting style, values, religious faith, methods of discipline most closely mirror yours?

  4. What financial resources does the guardian have or have access to to be able to provide for the needs of your child?

  5. What financial resources will be available after your death to assist the guardian in caring for your child (life insurance, retirement account withdrawals, child survivor benefits from Social Security)?

  6. If the potential guardian would also be the Trustee of any funds left for your child, how concerned are you about the lack of checks and balances to make sure money left for your child is spent appropriately?

  7. If you name a married couple or partners as guardians; what does that mean for your child should that relationship end?

  8. Does your potential guardian have the ability to relocate to your community (and maybe even live in your house with your child) to minimize the disruption to your child’s life?

  9. Will your permanent guardian (the person who takes over in the event of your death) be the same as or different from your short-term or “standby” guardian?

  10. Considering the court always has the power to decide what is in the best interests of a child and therefore must approve your nominated guardian, what information needs to be available to the court should you make an atypical choice for guardian (e.g., someone who lives in another country or someone who is not a blood relative)?


Bonus question: If your first choice isn’t able or willing to do the job, who is next in line?

We get this is hard stuff and can be unpleasant to think about. But, remember, if you want to have a say in what happens to your child upon your death, do the hard work. Be their parent. And take the necessary steps to designate your choice in a Will! When you have made your decision, we can help you make it official and give you peace of mind.

Phone: (919) 678-5761 Email: 

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