Wills and Trusts:

Choosing a Guardian

When naming a guardian for your minor children in your will, there are a few factors to consider.  First, you should name one personal guardian (and one alternate, in case your first choice can't serve for whatever reason) for each of your children. Legally, you have the option to name more than one guardian, but it is typically not a good idea because of the possibility that the co-guardians will later disagree. However, if you prefer that two people care for your child (a stable couple who would act as co-parents, for example) you may name both of them, so that they each have the legal power to make important decisions on behalf of your child.

Some other factors to consider:

  • Is the prospective guardian old enough (at least 18 years of age)?
  • Does the prospective guardian have a genuine concern for your children's welfare?
  • Is the prospective guardian physically able to handle the job?
  • Does he or she have the time to take on the responsibility of caring for one or more children?
  • Does he or she have kids of an age close to that of your children?
  • Can you provide enough assets to raise the children? If not, can your prospective guardian afford to bring them up?
  • Does the prospective guardian share your moral beliefs?
  • Would your children have to move?

If you are having a hard time choosing a guardian, take some time to talk with the person or people that you are considering. One or more of your candidates may not be willing or able to accept the responsibility. In addition, hearing about the prospective guardian's feelings on this issue may help you come to a decision.