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Choosing a guardian for your minor child

Imagining what your child's life would be like if you die can be an emotionally traumatic exercise, but it is an essential one. It is this process that can help you determine who you want to name as your child's guardian in your will. Avoiding the issue does not resolve it, because the court will choose someone to raise your child in the event of your death if you have not done so.

Parenting magazine provides some tips for making the choice.

Identifying your values

Before you start naming names and discussing possibilities, you and your spouse should first identify how you want someone to raise your child. For example, you may want him or her to receive education in a certain religious tradition or other aspects of your culture. The person you choose does not necessarily need to have the same beliefs and values that you and your spouse have but should be willing and able to follow the instructions you leave.

Finding a provider

You want the person who takes over for you to have the physical ability to keep up with your child and to provide emotionally and financially. Someone with poor health may struggle to offer certain opportunities. An individual with a large family may find that the addition of another child puts a strain on the amount of money and time that can be spent with the other children.

Standing your ground

You and your spouse may undergo some pressure from family members who believe they know better than you who should become your child’s guardian. Addressing this without hurting feelings or creating rifts in relationships requires careful communication. It may be impossible to get through the process without some emotional fallout, but ultimately, the choice is too important to allow others’ opinions to sway you.

Asking for permission

The person who you think would be a perfect parent to your child may not be in a position to accept the responsibility, so broaching the topic can be a touchy situation. Talk about the reasons you chose him or her, and provide all the relevant information about the inheritance, life insurance, trust or other financial resources you are arranging. Whether your choice agrees to become guardian or declines, you need to choose a backup person as well.

Once you have the information you need, an attorney can provide assistance with making your choice legal so that disputes and challenges do not arise that cause your child further emotional distress if you die.

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