If you have minor children, the most important element of your estate plan is how you plan to care for them if something happens to you. While no one wants to think about their children growing up without their parents, most also do not want to leave the decision to the courts or a different third party.
In your estate plan, you may name more than one guardian. Having backup plans can help guarantee that your children go into the care of someone you love and trust.
Discuss your options
Your children’s caretaker should be someone you trust to raise your children with your values. The guardian will need to be someone who can meet all of your children’s needs. Most parents choose a close friend or family member to serve as guardian. When the children know their guardians, they can grieve in an environment they trust.
Discuss your options with your other parent and with the potential guardians. Even if someone loves you and your children, you cannot predict if they want to take on the role of a guardian.
Include a backup guardian
People’s lives can change a lot throughout the years. Make sure you have backup guardians in mind if something happens to your original choice or if they go through changes of their own that make it difficult to care for your kids. For example, if you choose your parents, but they go through a health crisis of their own, they may no longer be able to care for young kids. Your original choices may also have more children and find it difficult to take your kids later.
Revisit your estate plan often to ensure you always have a plan for your kids.