Your Guide to Picking Your Child’s Guardian

Picking a Guardian

If the thought of putting your kid’s future in someone else’s hands makes you queasy, imagine leaving it to someone you might not like, or even know that well.

And that could happen: If you could no longer take care of your child, and didn't have a guardian picked out, a judge would swoop in and choose someone for you.

In most cases the court would first try finding the closest living relative—which could mean any number of people, depending on your situation. That could be your 80-year-old great-aunt Miriam, or your third cousin twice removed.

Of course, choosing a guardian is a big decision. Even if you have already chosen someone, it’s a good idea to revisit your choice every few years and make sure he or she is still the best person for the role.

Although you'll want to pick someone who’s financially stable enough to provide day-to-day basics, money shouldn’t actually factor into your decision at all. As the parent, it’s your job to leave your kid in a solid financial state with back-ups like a life insurance policy or inheritance.

(For more on how to choose the right life insurance policy, click here.)

When putting together an estate plan, you’ll probably be asked to choose both a guardian of your child (a person who will raise him or her) and a guardian of the estate (a person who will manage the money left to your child or for your child’s benefit), and the two don’t have to be the same person. Read this for more information on what to look for when choosing both guardians.

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If you’re anything like us, you’ve got more than one person in mind who could be a good fit for your child's guardian, so we’ve consulted with experts and designed a worksheet to help you narrow down your options.

Here's how to compare potential guardians using the quiz below: With one person in mind, agree or disagree with the following statements using a scale of one through five (with five being strongly agree, and one being strongly disagree). Then, tally up all the points: The potential guardian with the highest total score is the best choice for your child. (Print out this quiz to fill it out here.)

Potential Guardian’s Name:

 

Values

QuestionScale of 1-5
I agree with how she raises her own kids (choose 0 if she has none)
Her religious beliefs are in line with mine
I agree with her views on discipline
I agree with decisions she makes in her own life
I agree with the fact that she is a working mom or stay-at-home mom
I agree with her interests, hobbies, and other people she associates with

Total= ____

 


Relationships

QuestionScale of 1-5
My child has a great relationship with this person
I trust this person
I have known this person a long time
This person is family, or as close as family
This person has a network of friends and family who support her

Total= ___

 


Age

QuestionScale of 1-5
This person acts appropriately for her age
This person is young enough to be energetic while my child is growing
My child is young enough that age matters
This person is in good health

Total=___

 


Location

QuestionScale of 1-5
My child spends a lot of time in this person's house
If my kid lived with this person, she wouldn't have to move out of town
If my child lived with this person, she wouldn't have to change schools
My child has been to where this person lives and enjoys it

Total=___

 


Other Children

QuestionScale of 1-5
My child gets along with this person's children (choose 5 if this doesn't apply)

Total=__

 


Total Score: __


  • guest

    This is a good post, but I dislike the sexism. Why is one of your questions “I agree with the fact that she is a working mom or stay-at-home mom”? Why do you use female pronouns throughout? This points to the assumption that woman will be the caretaker in all cases, because women are naturally more of caretakers. God forbid a loving uncle, grandpa, or close family friend could be chosen to safeguard someone’s children in the event of an untimely death!