Picking a guardian
- January 10, 2014 at 12:05 pm #20115
I am 33 weeks pregnant with my first child, and my husband and I have started to talk about preparing a will and picking a guardian for our daughter. I knew it would not be an easy discussion or decision to make, but it’s turned out to be the most stressful thing we’ve gone through thus far because no matter what we do we just can’t seem to agree. He believes that his parents are the best choice, but we’ve had considerable problems with them in the past (we stopped talking to them for a year) that have only recently started to be resolved, and I can’t stomach the thought of them being named guardians. On the other hand, he doesn’t think my parents are the right choice because they don’t always think things through and have made some questionable decisions (mostly financial). There is much more to it than just those two things, but those are the big reasons. We don’t really have a lot of choices since we don’t have big families or any really close friends.
I was just wondering if there was anyone else out there who could not agree on who to name guardian. If so, how did you resolve it and finally come to a decision? Any advice is greatly appreciated!January 13, 2014 at 9:19 am #20117
Last year I wrote a blog about Writing a Last Will & Testament. I think you’ve just inspired me to write part 2! We finally completed our will this past summer (our daughter 6 and son 4). The reason it took so long was that because like you, we couldn’t agree on who would care for our children. Honestly, we don’t have any "good" choices, but we had to pick the best choice. The attorney we choose was actually incredibly helpful with this. When we finally met with her, we still didn’t agree but after multiple meetings we finally choose someone who could provide a similar upbringing as we provide our kids. We then have a variety (and I mean a variety) or people involved in all sorts of decisions from short term guardians (which are different than our long term guardians), managing the money for the children, to determining whether or not the plug would be pulled (in the awful event we both were unable to make the decision). We have a will/trust that is no joke, 3 inches thick. My suggestion would be, find a really good attorney, preferably one who specializes in estate planning and comes recommended and confirm he/she will be able to help you decide who the best person is. One things I realized was how if, as parents, you don’t make the decision, someone else will – probably someone wearing a black robe who knows nothing about you or your family.January 15, 2014 at 5:49 am #20118
Thanks for your insight Organized Mom. It makes me feel hopeful that my husband and I will come to some conclusion at some point. We’ve set up an appointment with a lawyer who can hopefully give us some helpful advice as well. I think I have to be a little more realistic about getting everything set and ready before our daughter comes in a month. I really appreciate you replying to my thread.January 31, 2014 at 5:30 am #20119
Good for you for taking this step! I think it must be common to stall because it took my husband and me almost 3 years to do the same thing. We were in agreement about who the guardians and conservators should be, but I was afraid of offending our family members. The best things our attorneys told us were that the details of the estate plans can (and probably should) remain confidential. You might elect to change some decisions at some point. You don’t need to get people’s permission first, and you can feel reassured that no one would be forced to do anything that they truly cannot or are unwilling to do. However, expressing your wishes in a formal way should make that whole ugly process a lot simpler — if those documents are ever needed at all. Good luck and congratulations on your new baby!February 3, 2014 at 11:59 am #20120
I love this topic! My daughter is in the toddler D class at Greenwood Plaza. I’m an estate planning attorney and mom and I handle this question all the time.
The biggest thing to note is that a will is NOT the right place for guardianship. A will only kicks in once you pass and it doesn’t address who should be guardian for a long-term disability or in an emergency situation. The short-term emergency situation is actually the scariest because the default is to find a blood relative (if one can be located, is available, and is willing to immediately assist), or otherwise foster care.
I have a report "6 mistakes parents–and some attorneys–make when choosing a guardian" on my website that is a great resource for parents. You can check it out right here.
Organized Mom has awesome insight on this question. There are many factors to think about when deciding who should raise your children, but the intangible factors – parenting philosophy, style, discipline, religion, spirituality, location – need to properly overlay with a sound legal foundation to ensure your wishes as a parent are laid out clearly and as required by law.
I am so very happy to help! I do free one-hour talks for parents all around Denver on this topic and other ways to protect your children – both the guardianship aspect plus how is the money cared for in the proper way. Super important questions. The schedule is online at http://www.willsandwellness.com/free-talks.html. Feel free to reach out on this thread or directly at 303-881-3609.February 3, 2014 at 12:34 pm #20121
Here’s the follow-up blog. http://blogs.brighthorizons.com/familyroom/choosing-guardians-writing-a-will-a-revocable-living-trust/
Thanks for the inspiration!February 3, 2014 at 12:40 pm #20122
Great post, Organized Mom. I love that you took the process so seriously. And I understand that it takes time to wrap your head around addressing guardianship and estate planning both emotionally and financially. In the end, it is totally worth the effort to give your kids the certainty of the future you chose for them if for whatever reason you can’t be there. I actually just did a blog post on the pitfalls of probate today – http://willsandwellness.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/nelson-mandela/. Happy day all!February 3, 2014 at 12:45 pm #20123
Thanks for sharing!! Your blog really helped remind me of why it’s all so important!February 4, 2014 at 11:41 am #20124
Thanks for posting the second part of the blog post Organized Mom…it actually gave me a broader insight into what we need to think about when choosing guardans (i.e. temporary and permanent). There is so much to think about my head spins some times, but I know that eventually my husband and I will come up with a good plan. We’ve actually been able to talk about it in a reasonable manner over the last couple of weeks and even have a couple people in mind. Now I guess the next step is to have a conversation with those people. I think that is going to be hard in it’s own way (who wants to talk about death?), but hopefully the people will be on board and we can move forward with creating a legal plan.
Thank you again for your insight!
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