Imagine the scenario, you are traveling by air with your spouse and the plane crashes (don’t get alarmed, it’s all hypothetical!) and you both perish, leaving your children, who have not as yet attained the age of 18 years, behind. What will become of them?
This is a question you don’t really want to discuss, since it involves death, which is a taboo topic. But actually, you will be doing a great disservice to your minor kids, if you don’t specify who takes care of them when you are dead and gone.
And if you think your parents, sister, brother, uncle or aunt will automatically get custody of your children, think again. In case, you have not specified who takes care of your minor kids in your will, the court may nominate anyone at its discretion, who may not necessarily be from your family.
So, the prudent first step is to nominate a person, who, in legal parlance, is called a guardian or conservator. But, this is easier said than done, since it is difficult to arrive at the ideal person for taking care of your minor kids.
We give some important pointers that will ease your job of selecting an appropriate guardian:
1. Living standard
You may be having your own house, but to expect the guardian to move in with your children, is asking for a bit too much. The guardian will not leave his or her established house, but may ask your children to move in. So, choose a person who has good living standard with all the amenities required for good living.
In all probability, the guardian you choose will be from your immediate or extended family and you will be aware of his or her nature and reputation. It is wise to steer clear of those who are strict disciplinarian, addicted to liquor or drugs and other vices. Choose one who has no vices and loves children.
3. Married or unmarried
It is wise to leave your minor kids with a guardian who is married and has his or her own children. This way you will be assured of the parenting skills of the guardian. However, the guardian should be in a stable marriage. To ensure that your kids are treated right, find out the guardian’s views on stepchildren, child discipline, education and other children’s curricular activities.
Deciding on the age of the guardian can put you in a dilemma. An older guardian may be incapable of handling minor kids, due to his or her advancing age, but may have the wherewithal, in terms of finances and resources. A younger guardian may be more adept at providing hands-on care in raising your children, and knows all the current trends in educating and parenting. However, he or she may not have much time to devote on raising your kids, due to own job and career.
5. Financial situation
When you nominate a guardian for your minor children, ensure you leave enough for your children in financial terms. However, it is equally important to know the financial situation of the guardian. If the guardian is not in a stable job or remains hard up for money, he or she may try to grab the money you have earmarked for raising your kids. So, settle for a guardian, who is financially secure.
Your detailed selection will come to naught, if the person you have selected for guardianship is unwilling to take up the responsibility of raising your kids. So, be upfront in asking the potential guardian, whether he or she is willing to take up this responsibility. Only once you are convinced of the potential guardian’s genuineness in undertaking this job, should you mention his or her name in your will.
There is no one in this world, with minor children, who has not had the unsettling thought of leaving their minor kids orphaned, due to his or her untimely death, along with spouse. Instead of getting sleepless nights over such thoughts, it is better to recognize the importance of naming a guardian for minor children. This is a part of your job as a parent and your responsibility towards your children.