If you are a parent of a minor child, this is probably the hardest question for you to answer.  Who will you name as guardian for your children if you should die? Like me, it may be the reason you’ve held off on updating your will.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a hard time facing this particular task.

Deciding who would take care of Luke was, by far, our largest concern and an emotional one, at that!  Jeff and I spent lots of time discussing our options.   My best advice here is to be open, honest and keep the discussion going.  Admit that none of your best friends, family members or anyone else will ever be able to be you.  So stop looking for someone that would do everything just like you would.  Once I recognized that, I found we had a whole list of potential candidates.  People who would love and care for Luke.

Here are some things to consider that I hope will help you choose a guardian you are comfortable with for your child in the unlikely event that you die.


Start with a list of potential candidates.  Remember, there is no rule that the guardian has to be blood related.   Consider close friends, anyone close to you and already involved in your family’s life.

Consider values.

There are lots of things to consider in naming a guardian.  Location for one, would your child have to move?  Would they be uprooted from everything they know?  Depending on how old they are this may matter more.  One of our big concerns is ensuring that Luke is able to stay connected to and spend time with both sides of the family.   Choosing someone with similar values to us is also extremely important, especially in the areas of faith, family, education, and ethics.

Talk to potential guardians.  

Don’t be afraid to talk to someone you’re considering for guardianship.   Are they even willing and able to take on guardianship responsibilities?  Talk about some of your concerns.  Ask more about their views on education, faith, and other family values.  Ask them about their willingness to make sacrifices.  Are they willing to make the effort to take your child to see the other side of their family, even on holidays?  Most importantly, spending time with the potential guardian(s) will help you see how they interact with your child.

Plan for right now, but know you can change it in the future.  

Remember, you can always change your designation down the road as life changes.  Although, one of Jeff’s older children may want to raise Luke should something happen to Jeff and I; they’re all just getting started in life. It would be a huge responsibility to take on at this stage of their lives, something we’re not entirely comfortable with.  Of course, over time that may change.  Choose someone that makes sense right now.  As your child ages you may want to change the guardianship designation to better fit their needs.  In fact, it’s a good idea to periodically review your guardianship designation to make sure your choice still aligns with your desires.

Consider your child’s input.  

You may even want to consider your own child’s input.  If your child is old enough to understand the concept, you may want to involve them in the discussion.  I remember having the discussion with my parents as an adolescent and I was glad to be apart of the conversation.  It made me feel comfortable with the decision.

Consider multiple guardian.  

If you have a number of minor children, you may even consider choosing different guardians for specific children.  Growing up we were lucky to have our extended family nearby, which enabled my parents to chose one set of guardians for my older brother and I then another set for my younger sister and brother.  Should my parents have died, although we would have been split up, we would have each had another sibling with us, still lived very close to each other, and been raised in a family with similarly aged children.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to name a contingent guardian should your original selection be unable to take on the role for some reason.

Don’t be deterred by financial concerns.  

Don’t let concern over the chosen guardian’s financial situation deter you from choosing someone that would otherwise be suitable.   If you are concerned that they won’t manage money appropriately for your child you can designate someone else to handle the financial aspects.  If you’re concerned that they won’t have the financial resources to take on raising and educating your child, you can supplement with life insurance or other assets.  In my opinion, there are lots of ways to handle financial concerns. Choosing someone with character, similar values and most importantly the capacity to love and care for your child is what matters most in this decision.

Finally, remember an imperfect decision is still better than no decision.  Don’t leave the decision to the court and a judge who doesn’t know you to decide what’s best for your child.  Additionally, if you are a single parent with sole custody it is all the more important that you have guardianship designation in place.

I’m happy to say that after taking into account all of these considerations, we were able to narrow down our list of potential guardians and come up with both a primary guardian and a contingent guardian for Luke that we are both comfortable with and fits our situation right now.