If you are like many parents, you are particular about the people you choose to care for your children. It may have been months before you left your newborn for a night out with your spouse. You reluctantly allowed your own parents to babysit and spent months, maybe years, investigating daycare providers.

The thought of choosing a guardian for your children, someone to care for your precious ones if you and your spouse should meet an untimely end, is likely something too painful to consider. Nevertheless, it is one of the most important decisions you can make as a parent. Providing well for your children may spare them uncertainty and confusion and can also offer you some peace of mind.

Who is a good match?

You will never be able to find the ideal person to carry on your work raising, loving and providing for your children. However, a thoughtful and careful decision can demonstrate your love just as powerfully. You will certainly want to consider the values you and your spouse hold most dear and list those people who espouse similar beliefs. From that list, consider candidates with these factors:

  • Good health
  • Financial stability
  • A lifestyle into which your children will fit comfortably
  • The presence of other children
  • Proximity to friends and other familiar people
  • Loving, nurturing personalities
  • Deep affection for your children

You may have other important elements to consider when evaluating the candidates on your list. This is certainly not a choice to make quickly, and you may even need to take time to observe the candidates and watch them interact with your children.

The next steps

Once you and your spouse have decided on someone with whom you could trust your children in the most dire circumstances, the next step is to approach the candidate with your request. During this conversation, you may wish to express your desires for your children and gauge whether the potential guardian is willing and able to nurture those dreams.

If the person agrees to the prospect of taking your children into his or her home, you must make it official by including it in your estate plan. Without expressly naming someone as the guardian of your children, anyone may request to be guardian, and the California family court will make a final determination. Like any part of your estate plan, it is wise to revisit your guardian designation from time to time to ensure it is still a good fit.