It’s time to talk about guardianship as an expectant parent

There is seemingly an endless number of things to do before your newborn’s arrival. There is purchasing supplies, preparing for parental leave and finishing the nursery.

However, what most expectant parents fail to add to their to-do lists is discussing their children’s guardians. Even before your child is born, it can be a good idea to start the discussions with your spouse regarding the “what-ifs.”

Accidents can happen unexpectedly and, without a plan, your little one’s fate could be left up to the courts if you and their other parent are unable to care for them.

With everything else you have to do it, it is not always clear where these conversations should begin and what should be considered when weighing your options.

Decide what is important to you

You can begin by discussing your parenting values and the values you would want a guardian to uphold. Do you value a specific religion? Is it important to you that they receive a certain type of education? Do they hold the same beliefs as you regarding your views on self-expression and culture?

Try to list five key values to help you narrow down your choices.

Make a list of possible guardians

Even if you both have one person in mind and do not foresee yourselves changing your minds, you can still make a list. In a will, you can name a successor guardian if the named guardian is unable or unwilling to serve. You have to consider who would take their place.

You can list immediate and extended family members and family friends, but try to avoid naming couples.

When you are making a list, you should ask yourselves a variety of questions, including:

  • Would they be willing to care for my child?
  • Do they have the financial means?
  • Are they close to my family and friends?
  • Do they care for and love my child?

Write it down in a will

To ensure that the person you have selected will be your child’s legal guardian if anything were to happen, you must name them in your will. Before you take this step it can be a good idea to discuss your thoughts with them ahead of time to confirm they are willing to take your place.

A will is also a valuable tool for passing on your assets to your child and ensuring your estate is administered according to your preferences.

After you have made it official, you may want to make it a point to discuss your decision with your family. This can give you the opportunity to explain your decision and thwart any unexpected surprises if anything were to happen.

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