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Choosing a guardian for a minor child

It can be difficult for a parent to think about a situation where he or she is no longer able to care for their child. However, it can be helpful to designate a guardian who can step in and make decisions for the child if needed.

There are some factors parents can consider when deciding who would be the best person to serve as guardian.

Guardianship choice

Sometimes a person will choose his or her own parents, the child’s grandparents, as the child’s guardian. If the grandparents are younger and don’t have health conditions, this may work well. However, the parent may want to consider the impact of raising a child on their own aging parents.

Instead, naming a sibling, cousin or close friend of similar age may be a better choice or it may be useful to name a back-up guardian who agrees to serve if the grandparent cannot. The parent can change the designation later if his or her circumstances change.

If the child is old enough, the parent may want to ask the child for his or her input about the guardian. Because the child could wind up living with the guardian, it’s important that the child feels comfortable with the person who is chosen.

Court determination

If a parent does not choose a guardian for his or her child, the court will appoint a guardian to care for the child and manage his or her assets. Essentially, this means that a stranger could be raising the child and making decisions for him or her.

An experienced attorney can help parents create an estate plan that includes a guardianship designation.