Choosing a guardian takes time and careful thought. A guardian is the person who is designated to legally look after your minor child or a person who is unable to make his own decisions in the event something happens to you. How do you go about choosing a guardian, rather than waiting for the court to do so if you become unable to care for your dependents? Before choosing a guardian, read on for tips on how to choose the best person for the job.
Note: If you need to file legal documents with a Washington State court to become a guardian, click here to view our Guardianship Legal Kit, available as an instant download or a print version we can mail to you.
List Must-Have Qualities
Ask yourself what you want for your child’s future. What’s most important to you in how your children are raised? Parenting suggests creating a list of the characteristics you’d want in a “dream parent.” For instance, if making education a top priority is important to you, you’ll want to choose a guardian that agrees with that value. Forbes suggests reviewing your moral, religious and spiritual values as you make your list.
You and your spouse may not agree with the priorities you each choose when selecting a guardian. Create a third list of qualities and values you both believe are important, suggests Parenting.
Now it’s time to list all of the potential guardians that have the values and qualities you’ve decided upon. Be honest about family members and friends you want to add to the list. Add people to your list that are physically and mentally capable of raising your children or dependent adult. It also helps to know if each person’s finances are in good shape to take on the cost of raising additional children or an adult that might need long-term care. Don’t forget to take into consideration your spouse’s choices, suggests Parenting. They recommend keeping your child as the focus of the selection process, not winning the situation with your own choice of a guardian.
Talk to the Best Candidate
Make sure your ideal guardian is onboard with your choice. Ask them how they feel about becoming your child or dependent adult’s guardian. Don’t expect an immediate answer; instead, give them time to think through the decision.
Make it Legal
Once you’ve chosen your guardian and the person accepts, make sure you put it in writing. Do not rely on a verbal agreement, says NPR. They say if you do not designate a guardian in writing, your children will likely be placed with child Protective Services. Wills or trusts are great places to name your guardian. Consider adding a letter of instruction that tells the guardian what you’d like from them.