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February 01, 2012


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This decision is exactly why it took us so long to draw up a will but it is also the primarily reason we wanted a will in the first place.

We actually went with the people we thought would be best in 5-10 years and not necessarily tomorrow. Grandparents are the obvious choice today, but we did not want the decision to have to be made again, and by someone else, in a few years when the grandparent option would no longer work.

That being said, we know with our given choice that grandparents would help out a lot in the interim.

Wow, do I hate thinking about this.

Good topic. I heard the court selects in order, next live parent, then grandparents, then unofficial step parent? Am I right or wrong on this?

Personally, I'd go with grandparents all the time. Family is so important and they would rather take on the highest burden to have the honor and sacrifices of post tragic responsibility. If they knew we selected a couple in a will they'd be devastated.

Basically, we'd ditto NoTrustFund. We keep putting off getting a will mainly because of the guardianship issue. Both sets of grandparents are available, but physical and age limitations make them questionable choices for long-term full-time guardians to young kids. However, not choosing them has emotional consequences.

Grandparents may be the best emotional choice, but as noted by others their age may prevent them from being parents.

Not asure I understand the "3 year" decision. If you die in the next three years, the selected people are the guardians until the child reaches majority. Surely you are making a long-term decision?

One other suggestions - keep the money management separate from the guardianship. The guardians should be compensated, but it may be a good idea to have someone else control some or all of the money. We had a guardian (who sucked at finances by the way) and a trustee (cold-hearted but good with money). The balance ensures that the guardian does not abuse their position to spend an inheritance on themselves.

We put a lot of thought into this question when we made our trust and will. We did the same as Mark in that we have an executor who is responsible for the finances that is separate from the guardians.

In our case, we went outside of the family for guardians. It was a difficult decision but one that aligns with the priorities we have for our children, namely that we want them to grow up in a Christian home. My siblings and parents cannot offer that guarantee, so close friends were the choice (for now).

As an estate planning attorney I say that is ludicrous! That plan only works if you are still alive in 3 years to update your documents. Isn't that the point of doing the will? In case you happen to die. Otherwise why not just wait 3 years to do your will.

If grandparents aren't going to be a good choice to raise your children in their teen years, why would you appoint them now? Unless you specifically say in your document that if I die and my parents are named as guardians you should rip them out of my parents house upon my child attaining age 13 (and maybe as each one attains 13 so they can be separated for several years) and maybe the school they attend and move them into a strange house because surely massive upheavel twice within their life will not completely mess with them mentally.

That said, there is no perfect solution. You just need to find the best solution. That may change over time. For example, when my first child was born we selected my sister-in-law and her husband. After watching them have children (who are younger than our oldest) there is no way I want them raising my children now. So, I've changed the document.

And at least in my state there is no stated order (grandparents, aunts, etc.). That might be how your assets would go without a will, but not necessarily your children.

Without doing your own nomination, not only would you not be choosing the guardian for your children, but the Court only appoints people that petition for guardianship (or are nominated by someone else). So, if your first choice knows that someone else in the family is going to petition and doesn't want a family fight with them, they may never step forward and your first choice will never serve. Or, you could give your family the gift of filing multiple petitions and fighting over your children without your input. The Court will attempt to make the choice in the best interest of your children, but really they don't know these people at all.

As you can tell, I've got a pretty strong opinion on this topic. If you have minor children you have to nominate a guardian! Nothing is written in stone. If you change your mind down the road you can change it.

ugh. I'm going through this right now. We both come from large families, so there isn't any question that it will be a sibling. But we have added cultural concerns - we have a multiracial family and want to make sure our kids would be equally comfortable in both cultures. Add on top of that the idea of throwing 2 kids into a family that already has 3 or 4 kids and how that might be a total inconvenience to them. And then religious differences. sigh. there are a lot of things to consider. I don't think we have it completely figured out yet.

Right now we are considering splitting custody (school year / summer) between the two sides of the family, and keeping money in someone elses hands completely so that it is fairly allocated. With the understanding that when the kids are old enough they would be able to change that arrangement if they wanted.

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