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Selecting Guardians for Your Children

Legal Matters 


Brought to you by: Community Partner Bradford & Holliman, 

Community Partner Logo 22 FINALWhile attending a baby shower, a friend in her late 60s wondered if the parents-to-be had taken time to consider very carefully who they would like to be their baby girl’s guardians if they were both gone. That’s so much more important that the nursery wall color.

Sometimes a guardian choice is obvious such as a sibling whose parenting style you like. But siblings often live far away. Perhaps close friends are better choices so your children would already know them well, and your children’s day-to-day life would have more continuity after major trauma. If you’ve set up trusts for your children through your estate plan, the trustee is another possible guardian. However, you may like your trustee’s financial expertise more than their parenting expertise.

Not only is selecting potential guardians for your children a major decision, but your will should include at least two backups of either couples or single individuals. When reviewing their five-year-old will, one couple was stunned to realize that of the three couples they had selected, all three were now in drastically different situations. The wife of their primary choice had died, and her husband was dealing with grief and had moved to Georgia. Their secondary choice had divorced and had a complicated relationship. The third couple had divorced, and both had married other people. This situation is a perfect example of why we encourage clients to review their wills at least every three years.  

Your own life may change in ways that should trigger a reassessment of your choices of guardians such as moving to a different state. If you have more children, perfectly competent guardian possibilities with larger families of their own may become inappropriate because they would be stretched too thin to raise your children, too. Obviously, you need to keep your wills updated. Long before you meet with your estate planning attorney, talk seriously with each potential guardian, and get their agreement to serve as guardian. Ask them to let you know if their situation changed in ways that would prevent them from accepting the responsibility. And then update your will.

Melanie B. Holliman-Melanie B. Holliman, JD 

Partner at Holliman & Holliman, PLLC


No representation is made that the quality of the legal service to be performed is greater than the quality of service performed by other lawyers.


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