It is difficult enough thinking of dying, but trying to imagine someone else raising your children makes the thought even more difficult. Every responsible parent needs to confront this difficult issue.
If you and your spouse (or the child’s other parent) died in a simultaneous manner, where would your children go? If you do not have a will that nominates a guardian, the court will decide. Do you want to let a judge who does not know you or your family, make this important decision? For most people I know, that answer is “no.”
The most important step you should take is nominating a guardian for your children, and preferably two alternates, in a will. Why is this important? Your nomination will:
- reduce the delay in appointing a guardian because the court will not have to consider factors and then make the decision;
- reduce the potential for family disagreement among those seeking guardianship if no one is named, and spare the children of dealing with family discord;
- provide for a smoother transition for children and family who are grieving;
- avoid appointment by the court of people you believe are undesirable in raising your children.
Letting your children know who you have named might ease anxiety in situations where a parent is faced with a terminal illness or other medical conditions that might cause them to fear their future (where will we live? Who will take care of us?) should a parent die. I’ve seen children struggle with these worries more than usual with parents in the military, parents who travel frequently for work, or parents in high-risk professions such as first responders.
Death is a tough topic, but you must confront it if you have children. Parenting involves making tough choices, including naming a guardian who’ll parent your children if you cannot.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to discuss nominating guardians for your children.