Parenthood brings many new responsibilities to a person's life. Selecting a car seat, setting up a college fund, baby proofing the house, and the list goes on. Unlike many new parents, my husband and I had a will in place prior to the arrival of our first child. And in that will, we named a guardian. Given my line of work this is probably not too strange. But a recent news story out of New York underscores the importance of planning.
While riding in a cab to the hospital an expectant couple, both 21 and married not quite a year, were killed in an accident. There unborn child was saved when the hospital performed a c-section. Saved, but no has no parents. Who will raise the baby?
From my experience the biggest roadblock to creating a will (the only legal way to nominate a guardian) is indecision about who to name as a guardian. No answer will be perfect because no one can literally replace you. But naming someone is far better than leaving the issue open for argument, and possible legal challenges. Emotions would be running high, and none of that is ideal of a child or children.
Here are the points I recommend, based mainly on being a mom who writes wills:
- Who shares your views on lifestyle (think finances, religion, education, social values);
- Who has the time and energy to parent a child (doctor appointments, field trips, middle of the night wake up calls);
- Does the person live in a place you would want your child raise?
- Who spends a lot of time with your child and is close with him or her?
- Does your child (assuming older kids) have a preference?
Remember, a blog is not an attorney. It is best to consult a lawyer licensed in your state for advice specific to your situation. Hopefully this post got you thinking a bit about an issue many parents have not addressed.
M. Gustafson Gervasi, 2008, Author's first born child.