Serving as a guardian is a significant responsibility.
Estate planning is important at any life stage.
Each stage has its own specific concerns to be addressed.
Young adults must prioritize agents to make medical and financial decisions for them in the event of incapacity.
Older seniors must consider how to best pass what remains of their assets to heirs.
And parents of minor children must select a guardian for their children.
According to recent Kiplinger article titled “3 Key Things to Consider Before Agreeing to Be a Guardian in a Trust,” parents often choose someone who they believe to be responsible and to have similar values as the parents.
If you are approached about being nominated as the guardian for minor children in an estate plan, you should carefully consider what is involved in this role and how it fits into the overall estate plan.
Ask about finances.
If the parents die, will they leave behind enough money to pay for the needs of the children until they reach adulthood?
Do the parents have a college fund set up for each child?
Will you be asked to use your own funds to buy food and clothes or pay for medical appointments and extracurricular activity?
Remember: life insurance is the only way to create an “instant estate” before time, work, and savings can “create” an estate.
Inquire about any estate planning legal documents and their content.
Does the couple have a last will and testament or a trust?
Who has been appointed to serve as the executor or the trustee?
Are any conditions in place for the use of funds to benefit the children?
Talk with the parents about their wishes for their children.
Although you may have been selected by the parents to serve a guardian because you have similar values, you cannot assume to know exactly what the parents desire for their children.
Do they want their children to participate in religious activities?
Do they want you to move into their home so their children can remain in the same community?
Discuss activities and hobbies.
Will you be required to shuttle the children to every activity all year long?
Will these requirements interfere with the needs of you and your own family?
If any of these terms will be detrimental to your own family, it may be wise to politely decline serving as a guardian.
Reference: Kiplinger (Nov. 17, 2022) “3 Key Things to Consider Before Agreeing to Be a Guardian in a Trust”