Choosing a Guardian for your Minor Children

Post by: Lesley Hempfling

Choosing a Guardian for your minor children is not an easy task. In talking to friends, family and clients the primary reason for the delay in handling such an important affair is the simple fact that they struggle with deciding who to appoint.

Let's face it, the reality is, no one is going to be you. It's hard to imagine anyone (other than you) would ever be good enough to raise your children. However, wouldn't it be better to at least have some control over this decision? The only way to make sure your wishes are carried out is to execute a formal Guardianship either as a standalone document, or as part of your Will. In Texas, you may appoint a single person as Guardian or a married couple as joint Guardians of your minor children. The Court will uphold your choice of Guardian as long as it is in the best interests of your children and as long as the person chosen is not disqualified. If you do not document your choices, then the Court will appoint a person to serve as Guardian of your children based on the guidelines set out in the Texas Estates Code.

What should you consider when choosing a Guardian for your minor children? There are no hard and fast rules, but when I discuss this issue with clients, I like to focus on several things:

First, does the person you wish to name share your same values?

Are they at an age that would allow them to care for your minor children now or ten years from now depending on how old your children are at the time?

Do they have the financial means to support your minor children and if not, will you be able to make provisions for them in this area?

Do your children have an existing relationship with this person?

Will the transition to this person be the least disruptive choice for your children?

Is the person you are appointing willing to serve as Guardian of your children if the need arises?

Once you have chosen a Guardian and alternate Guardians, make sure you formalize this decision with the right legal documents. Just like all of your other estate planning documents, you should review your choice of Guardian from time to time and at a minimum every five years.