What to Look for in a Guardian for Your Finances and Your Children

Gabrielle Karol
Posted

Choosing a GuardianNo mother wants to think about a day when she wouldn’t be there for her children.

But unforeseen accidents and illnesses do happen. As a parent, you need to make sure that your children are protected and cared for the way you would want them to be. The best way to do that is to decide who would take care of your children and … and who would manage your finances if you weren’t around.

Types of Guardians

When you set up a will, you’ll name both a trustee and a guardian.

Trustee

If you have children under the age of 18, you’ll need someone to manage your finances on their behalf. That’s the trustee. This should be someone who either shares the same money values as you or who you feel confident will carry out your specified wishes.

Maybe you don’t believe in spending a lot of money on luxuries like clothing or travel, but feel very strongly that you want to pay for your children’s education. You should discuss this with the trustee you decide upon, so that he or she knows to say no to paying for a spring break trip to Mexico but yes to four years of private college tuition.

Guardian

The guardian you choose will take care of your children on a daily basis, serving as a surrogate parent. This should be the person in your life that you feel will be the best substitute for you as a mother.

Who Should You Choose?

In many cases, the person you want to oversee your finances and act as guardian will be the same person. This makes sense, because all of these positions require a trustworthy person who knows you and your wishes well.

But let’s say that your brother is really great with children—he has two sons that your own kids adore—and lives right near your home. He would be the obvious choice for guardianship for your children … except that he spends money like water and has no sense for budgeting.

You can assign him guardianship, and then assign a different friend or relative—say, your older, childless sister—the role of trustee. She would be able to manage your finances, and make sure that your brother spends your money on your children as you would want, while your brother could raise your children on a day-to-day basis.

One important thing to consider, however, is how well these two people get along. You don’t want to put your children in a situation with two people—both charged with your kids’ well-being—who are fighting over money. If you choose two different people to serve as trustee and guardian, you should make sure that they get along and communicate well.