Being Named a Guardian
When asked to serve as the guardian of someone's minor children in the event of his/her death, it is usually meant as a compliment. However, don't accept this role without giving it serious thought. Consider the following:
• Are your lifestyles compatible? Go over all details involved in raising the children. Will the children have to relocate far from their current home? It is difficult to lose parents, but it becomes even more traumatic when the children must relocate away from friends and school. What are the parents' preferences regarding education, religion, lifestyle, and other factors? How well does your family get along with their children? Consider the impact on your children, including the fact that you will probably have less time available for them.
• How much financial support will be available? This involves more than making sure money is available for college and other expenses directly attributable to the children, such as clothing, medical expenses, and entertainment. Additional children in your house will increase many of your bills, including food, utilities, transportation costs, etc. Your house may now be too small, requiring an addition or moving to a larger home.
• Are you comfortable taking on responsibility for the children's finances? Just because you agree to take physical custody of the children does not mean you have to handle their finances. You may feel more comfortable with another person involved to review how money is spent.
• Has a contingent guardian been named? Find out if a contingent guardian has been named in case you cannot serve. However, don't use this as an excuse to say yes when you really want to decline. It is better to indicate that you do not want to take on this responsibility now, so another guardian can be chosen. Also, if your situation changes in the future, inform the parents immediately.