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Learn... Plan... Protect Your Estate

Steps to Build Plan
  Step 1 - Organize documents
  Step 2 - Get educated
  Step 3 - Inventory
  Step 4 - Determine goals
  Step 5 - Develop plan
  Step 6 - Review plan
  Step 7 - Take action
  Step 8 - Get help
Estate Plan Items
  Death Will
  Power of Attorney
  Health Care Directive
  Living Will
  Charitable Giving
  Asset Distribution
  Burial Instructions
Identify a guardian

If you have minor children, as part of creating your will, it is imperative that you name a legal guardian to care for your children should you die. For two-parent families, this guardian usually will apply only in the event that both you and your spouse die.

For anyone, the selection of a guardian to care for your children when you are gone is a very difficult decision. For married couples, this can be even more difficult, since there are probably many more people to consider. In making this decision, you want to take your time and think it through carefully. After all, this is the person who, at least for now, you believe is the very best candidate for taking care of your children should something happen to you.

Try to choose a guardian as if it were any other decision, like refinancing your mortgage, and approach it methodically. Also, once you select a guardian, and get that person's approval to act as guardian, no one else needs to know.

Begin by getting pencil and paper, and make a list of everyone who could fill this role. Then, using the following criteria, start evaluating.

  • Health. You want someone who is in good physical condition. Siblings, for this reason, are usually better choices than your parents.
  • Resources. The person should have the time and (if necessary) the money to handle the responsibility.
  • Similar views. You want someone who shares your views on education, religion and other things that matter to you.
  • Proximity. Choosing someone who lives nearby is a plus. Moving a child who's just lost one or both parents makes the situation even more difficult by removing them from other friends and family they know and are comfortable with.
  • One vs. two. Because of the high divorce rate, if you choose a married couple, many estate planners advise naming just one of them.

You're done with this important step. Should you have another child, or should your choice of guardian prove unworthy, revisit the issue. It's not only legal to change your choice of guardian, it's your right.

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