7 Things to Consider When Naming a Guardian for Your Minor Children

How to Will Your Minor Children to Family

If you have minor children, one of the most important decisions you'll have to make is who should take care of your children if you die while they're minors. In legal terms, this is called a guardian or conservator of the person.

Many people in this situation struggle to pick a guardian for their child among family members and friends. To help you with your decision, consider these seven factors that will impact your minor children after you're gone.

Where Do They Live?

Father and toddler son reading book on living room sofa, as father ponders a guardian for his child

Hero Images / Getty Images

Many parents naively think the person they choose as guardian for their children will pack up their bags and move right into the children's home or buy a house in the neighborhood. However, this is asking a lot from your guardian.

Most likely, the children will move in with the guardian if they have room. If not, the guardian will buy a larger house in their current location to accommodate their family and yours.

Think about where the person lives and if you're okay with your children being raised there.​

What Are Their Religious, Political, and Moral Beliefs?

First, think about your own religious, political, and moral beliefs. Then consider what you know about how the potential guardian feels about those areas.

If you don't know much about the potential guardian's beliefs, you must ask. After all, you'll want to know how this person will shape your children's views if you're not around.

It may be impossible to find a guardian who follows 100% of your personal beliefs. But someone who follows 70% to 80% is certainly a better choice than someone who only follows 30% to 40%.

What Do You Know About Their Parenting Skills?

Consider what you know about the potential guardian's parenting skills if they are already a parent.

Are they hands-on with raising their children, or do they rely on outside help? Do you know their views on child discipline, education, sports, and other school activities?

If the potential guardian isn't already a parent, then ask yourself how they were raised, since this will greatly influence how they will act as a parent.

How Old Are They?

The age of a potential guardian can cut both ways. On the one hand, an older guardian may be in a better position financially and have more time to raise your children.

However, an older guardian may be out of touch with current trends in education and parenting, and may not understand what kids today want and like. There's also the possibility that they may become ill or die before the children become adults.

Opting for a younger guardian for your child could mean the guardian could be too involved in getting their career and family organized to worry about raising your children.

If you're thinking of selecting an adult sibling of a minor child, keep in mind the sibling may be in college or beginning their career. They may not in the position to raise their younger sibling.

What Is Their Family Situation?

Think about the family situation and whether the potential guardian is married or has children that could play a major role in your decision.

If they're married, how stable is the marriage? If single, is there a potential spouse or significant other on the scene? 

How many children do they already have, and how old are they? If the potential guardian doesn't have any children, then is there the possibility of children in the future?

Considering the family situation is the key to understanding how this can influence the upbringing of your children.

What Is Their Financial Situation?

Do you know if the potential guardian is good with managing money, has a stable job, or has a spouse or significant other with a stable job?

Knowing where they get their money to pay the bills and put food on the table is crucial to whether they would have to quit their job or take on a second job to raise your children.

Much like the family situation, the potential guardian's financial situation can have a big impact on your children's future.

Have You Determined That They’re Willing to Serve?

Of all the considerations, this is the most important factor. What if the person you've chosen doesn't want to or simply can't serve? 

You could be setting your children and family up for a court battle if you don't take the time to ask the potential guardian if they'll be willing to act as your children's guardian.

Choosing your child's guardian is not the time to be shy. Your children's lives are at stake, and you need to be upfront with the potential guardian and your other family members or friends.

If you're worried about hurting someone's feelings, don't. You need to do what's best for your children.

Prioritize What's Important to You

Naming someone to serve as a guardian for your child may seem overwhelming. While there is a lot to consider, the bottom line is that you'll need to put these seven considerations in order of priority for you and your children. Also, don't overlook the importance of naming a backup guardian to your initial choice just in case they can't or won't serve. Otherwise, it will be left up to a judge to decide who will be your children's guardian.