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Naming a guardian for your children

Resist the urge to avoid naming a guardian as part of your estate plan simply because it’s not easy to imagine someone else raising your children. If you don’t, you leave the guardianship of your children up to the courts if you pass away. Think about who, starting with your family members, would be the best choice.

Remember that the guardian you choose doesn’t also have to handle money for your children. Assuming you have life insurance and other assets set up to take care of your children, the trustee will be in charge of managing those assets on behalf of your children. The person or people you choose to take care of the child can coordinate with the trustee on matters of money.

If you want to name a couple, think ahead about your intentions should either person die, or if they separate or divorce. You can open up the field of options if you provide more than one possible guardian. That way, if the first person on your list cannot serve, you have approved of other possible options. That also makes it less likely that someone who you don’t want to serve as the guardian will be able to do so.

If the guardian you are naming doesn’t live in your state, include the name of someone who can take care of your children until that guardian can take over. Some states have an emergency guardianship proxy, or you can include it in your will.

Consult an estate planning lawyer to help you make this decision and to ensure the documents are in place to match with your wishes.

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