You’re a young Illinois couple, in perfect health and having a baby. You’re focused on fixing up the nursery, buying the safest car seat on the market and picking a name. But there’s one more thing all expectant or new parents must add to their to-do list: Choose a guardian in case the unthinkable ever happens.
Many young people probably haven’t thought about creating an estate plan but having a baby makes it an essential. If the parents unexpectedly pass away without naming a guardian, courts will decide who should raise your child.
That should be a parent’s choice.
When considering who to name as a guardian for your child, think about the following:
- Who will raise your child the way you would have? Who shares your personal values – the ones you’d like your children to learn? Who would mimic your parenting style?
- Is the chosen guardian financially stable? You likely will leave behind insurance or other resources to help raise the child, but raising a child to adulthood is expensive. You don’t want to economically burden someone who doesn’t have the means to raise a child.
- Is the chosen guardian young enough to fulfill the task? While grandparents are logical guardians, older grandparents might not be able to care for children until they go to college or are on their own. You undoubtedly would want your children to have the stability of living with just one guardian through the years and not having to experience another loss.
- Does your chosen guardian have good character? You likely wouldn’t want to select someone who has a history of substance abuse.
Once you’ve chosen a guardian for your child, make sure the person you select is on board. Talk through your dreams for your child to have peace of mind that you’re on the same page.
When your decision is final, put in in writing. Your attorney will draw up the documents to ensure your child is in good hands should something happen to you – the hands you selected.