If you have children, one of your biggest fears may be passing away unexpectedly and leaving your young children without anyone to care for them. However, Texas parents can prepare for this possibility by naming a guardian for their children in their will.
Who can I choose as my child’s guardian?
Choosing a guardian is never easy. Legally, any competent adult, 18 years of age or older, can be a guardian. When choosing a guardian, consider the following:
- Whether their morals and values align with yours
- Existing bond with the child
- Ability to handle the responsibilities of raising a child
- Whether your child would have to relocate
- Financial stability
- Religious views
- Mental and physical health
What if I am not married to the child’s other parent?
Generally, if both you and your child’s other parent are the biological or adoptive parents of the child, if one of you passes away, the other will have a presumptive right to be the guardian of the child.
However, there are situations where the surviving parent does not want to care for the child or where both parents pass away. To prepare for those situations, you should name a guardian in the will. If you and the child’s other parent have separate wills, it would be best to name the same person as the guardian. You may also name an alternate guardian if the first one is not available.
What if I have multiple children?
If you have more than one child, you may name different guardians for each child. However, if you want to keep the kids together, naming one guardian would be best.
What happens if I don’t choose a guardian?
You are able to change your guardian over time, so choosing someone is generally better than not choosing anyone at all. If you don’t choose a guardian ahead of time, the court will have no choice but to appoint one without knowing your child or family personally.
As a parent, protecting your children and preparing for the unexpected is especially important. While choosing a guardian is difficult, it is an important decision of the estate planning process that should not be taken lightly. An estate planning attorney can help you with the process of creating a will and naming a guardian.