How To Choose A Guardian

Matthew Erik Johnson

Written by

Estate Planning Attorney

Contributor Level 17

Posted almost 2 years ago. 3 helpful votes



List Your Option

The first step to determining your best choices for guardian is to list out 5 individuals or couples that might be options as guardians. If you can't think of five people or couples, that's okay. You should list at least two individuals or couples. If this is difficult for you, keep the alternative in mind: foster care or the first volunteer. A judge, who doesn't know you, and is working in a broken Court system devoid of any real investigation, would make the choice for you.You are not limited to naming family members by any means.


Write Down Your Criteria

Next you'll want to rank your guardian priorities - the various attributes and values you want your guardians to instill upon your children if you aren't around. Things to consider should include: 1. Parenting Philosophy 2. Relationship With Your Kids 3. Age 4. Location 5. Religion or Spiritual Philosophy 6. Discipline Style 7. Personal Values 8. Special Needs Of Your Children 9. Finances Remember these are your values, nobody else's. This what you want instilled in your children if you are unable to provide guidance yourself. If strong religion or spirituality is important to you, then place it highly. If having a younger family who will be able to care for your kids well through high school without age being a factor, then rank it higher. Really think about each variable and think about reasons why it might be important, and why it might not be. Take your time, really think it through.


Order Your Criteria

Next you will want to take your criteria, and rank them from most important to least important. Some thought should go into your ranking, since many guardians will have both strengths and weaknesses within your criteria.


Rank Your Guardian Choices Underneath Each Criteria

Next, take each individual or couple you selected in Step 1 and underneath each criteria, rank your choices from strongest to weakest. This should give you a clearer view about who is better prepared to serve as guardians. However, you still may have to make some tough choices if one or more individuals/couples are close in quality.



Once you have completed the above steps, its time to evaluate the information you've developed. Based on what you now know to be your values and requirements for your guardian, who would make the best choice? Are grandparents really the best option? With this clear list in mind, its time to draft your Will so you can lock in these choices. However, there is one more step everyone should take.


Talk To Your Choices

Next you will want to have an open and frank conversation with each choice. Ask them if they are willing to serve as guardians. Talk about your values, your principals, and your dreams and ambitions for your children. Talk about the messages you want your kids to hear when they have questions about career, sex, college, and marriage. Some may not be prepared to be guardians, or may want to be ranked lower than you had hoped. Its best to know now rather than wait till until after something happens


Who Do You NOT Want To Serve As Guardian?

You may also want to single out family members whom you do not want to serve as guardians. The government doesn't know you, and the government doesn't know your family. A family member may look great on paper, but behind closed doors they might not be. You can draft confidential documents that explain why you don't want certain family members serving. If the person challenges your guardianship choice, out comes the letter to ensure your choices are upheld.

Additional Resources

I invite everyone to my website. We're just getting it started but I plan to make it a valuable resource with articles and video blogs that will teach people about estate planning, finance law, and other legal matters.

Johnson Legal Group

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