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How to Choose a Guardian for Your Child

Description

Tricia Brown shares details of her process of choosing a guardian for her child.

You might think that planning for what would happen to your children if you were to die is a morbid and depressing experience, but I actually found it fun.

Does that make me weird?  Maybe, but I don’t think so.  In fact, a big part of the “how to choose a guardian for your child” process is thinking about life, the adult you hope your child will become, and the many different people in your life you know you can count on.

As brightpeak embarked on the process of developing resources for parents to think about this very important question  – how do you choose a guardian for your child? — they posed a few questions about my experience. You can download a copy and read my answers below:

When did you realize it was important to choose a guardian for your daughter?

I knew it was important long before she was born.  Actually getting it done is another question entirely.  What ended up making my husband and I finally take action was two things:

  • We had the opportunity to get discounted legal services for a limited amount of time through my husband’s employer.
  • We were planning our first night away as a couple since my daughter was born and I started to feel paranoid about not having all the necessary safeguards in place.

While we got back safely, I definitely enjoyed the trip more knowing that we had all our “ducks in a row”.

How did you decide who would be a good guardian for your child?

There are a lot of factors that were important to us and some narrowed the list of candidates a lot more than others.  The most important factor, of course, is who would provide a loving home and help her grow into the responsible, caring, confident adult we know she can become.  Beyond that, there were a lot of other important questions that also needed a “Yes” next to them, like:

  • Relationship:  Is the person or couple able and willing to establish and maintain a close and loving relationship with my daughter now, while we are still here?  Will they be able to provide the emotional support needed by a grieving child?
  • Ability:  Will the person or couple be physically able to care for her five years from now or ten years from now?  Will they have the ability to care for two children or three if I have others?
  • Financial considerations:  Will this person or couple be wise in their management of any financial resources I leave behind to help cover the cost of her care and education?  Will the person or couple be able to handle the additional financial burden of raising another child?

While this seems like a lot of criteria, this is only part of what we went through and at the end of the day we still had three individuals/couples that met the criteria.  The exercise of thinking about our support network and the wonderful people that my daughter will have in her life was refreshing.

How did you go about legally designating a guardian for your daughter?

We found an attorney through the legal benefit program my husband had access to at his work.  There are quite a few ways to get discounted legal services – many employers and membership organizations offer legal service plans that you can join for a short period of time to access free and/or discounted legal services either online or through a local attorney in the approved network of providers.

Having not worked with an attorney before, we found it helpful to have another organization recommend a legal service provider.

What sorts of things went well in your conversation with these guardian candidates that you’d offer as advice to others?

While we told them all kinds of great things about themselves (of course, that part went over well!), the most important thing we did was prepare to demonstrate how we would try to help share the burden of the enormous responsibility we were asking them to take on.

We wanted to demonstrate that we were not asking them to bear the burden alone We wanted to share that burden as best we could by planning in advance so that they would feel supported should the worst occur.

The resources we put in place for our daughter and her designated guardian are:  legal documentation to make sure the guardianship transition is quick and painless (and not battled out in court or decided by the state), financial resources through insurance policies that will provide resources so that our guardian can afford to take time off to deal with our grieving child and to help pay for her upbringing, and back-up options should our chosen guardian not be up to the challenge (we designated a second guardian that is ready to fill the role if our first is not able to for whatever reason).

Finally, and most importantly, we committed to making sure that our guardians would have an ongoing opportunity to play a role in our daughter’s life and the ability to form a strong relationship with her that is independent of us.

 

Written by Tricia Brown

This blog post is from the Author's perspective and doesn't speak for brightpeak financial. Contact brightpeak if you want to know more about brightpeak products, and keep in mind that they are not available in all states and there are some limitations (some exclusions and restrictions may apply).

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