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June 11, 2008


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I'm no attorney but my wife and I just had this same discussion with our attorney. Once your brother-in-law has custody of your son he will remain the legal guardian. However, the court can appoint someone else as guardian if he is considered "unfit." This can happen well after the initial guardianship appointment. I would hope that your brother-in-law would come to love your son like he was his own and never dream of "shifting" the guardianship to someone else. Just like you are doing, he should have a will which states who gets your son upon his death.

I do know that you can pick 1st, 2nd, 3rd choices for guardianship of your child. (It's in my will even though I have no children!) I'd say talk to your brother about your wishes and concerns and importance of a will if he doesn't already have one. I'd also recommend talking to an attorney. This is very important to you, so you want to be informed.

When your child is old enough, maybe not even a child anymore, share with him what was in your will for guardianship. I found it very interesting to hear from my parents which relative would have been caring for my siblings and I. It also helped reinforce the importance of a will, and that's a good thing!

We have guardianship set in our wills in the order of wife's sister, wife's brother, family friend.

The reason for so many is there are times when her family gets together, thus the possibly of all of us dying in a tragedy. However, very rarely is her entire family AND the family friend together at one time (or traveling in the same vehicle).

We reserve the right (and have done so) to change the guardianship in our will. In one case, the family friend lives several states away from where we currently live, we asked somebody who lives in our town.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES will we leave it in the hands of the court. This is nothing against the courts, they just do not have the knowledge of the people involved like we do. Also, in the event of a disaster, my kids do not need to wait on the courts to decide who will raise them...they would be traumatized enough as it is (especially if they lost several of their relatives at the same time).

Also, we have a provision in our will that any life insurance money and liquid assets be put in a trust fund to help with the expenses of raising our kids.


I read your concerns. Really what you have to do is discuss these concerns with the person who you are going to give gardianship to. This person you are trusting with your children. More than likely they love your children almost as much as you do and will find a way to take care of them in the unlikely event that something would happen to you. We are Godparents for a couple who has 6 children. We have 3 of our own. If something were to happen to these good friends of ours. We would find a way to make it work. It would just happen. Things might be alittle crowded but everyone would be fed and loved. So that is the most important thing.

When I discussed this with our attorney, he suggested that unless there was someone in the family we really, really wanted to keep away from the kids, don't worry about it.
Should it ever be necessary, its so unlikely you will be able to pick the best person at the time in advance that its not worth the worry.

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