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How Should Parents in Miami Choose Guardians in Their Estate Plans?

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6 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Guardian for a Minor Child

Every parent hopes their children outlive them, but they also hope that that happens when the children are established adults and can care for and support themselves independently. However, this doesn’t always happen, and it’s important to have a plan for what will happen to your children if you were to pass unexpectedly that includes who would take care of them. This person is referred to as a guardian, and you can name who you want as a guardian for your children in your will.

Obviously, choosing a guardian is an important decision and one that’s potentially life-changing for your children. Below is a list of some of the most important factors to consider when choosing a guardian for your minor child.

1. Relationship With the Child

Ideally, it’s best to name a guardian who already has an established, healthy, and loving relationship with your child. Many people choose close family members, such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle, because the child is already familiar with them. This can make the transition process much easier for a child who is dealing with the loss of a parent. Parents who don’t have close relationships with their family members may choose to name a close friend as a guardian.

2. Financial Stability

Caring for a child is extremely expensive, with the average cost to raise a child over 18 years coming in at $237,482 as of 2021. That breaks down to more than $13,000 per year. It’s important to think about what costs will be involved in raising your child and whether the person you’re naming as guardian has the financial means to do so. For example, grandparents on a fixed income or an aunt who already has several children of her own may struggle to take on the financial burden of another child. If you’re not sure whether the person you’d like to name as guardian is financially stable enough, it can help to have a candid conversation with them about the possibility.

3. Location

While it’s not always possible, it can be helpful for the surviving child to be able to stay in the geographic location they are used to. This can help them continue to engage in relationships and friendships that can provide support while they are grieving, and keeping things like school and extracurricular activities the same can provide a stabilizing sense of normalcy. For this reason, you may want to consider naming a guardian who either already lives nearby or who would be willing to relocate if necessary.

When discussing this option, it’s important to consider the potential cost of moving and whether the person would be able to afford the relocation and the same quality of life. The overall cost of living is nearly 20 percent higher in Miami than the national average, which could mean a big jump depending on where the person is moving from. It’s also important to consider whether the potential guardian would be able to get a job in Miami or work remotely with their current company.

4. Overall Health

While someone’s health can change quickly at any time, think about whether the person you want to name as guardian is physically capable of taking on the care of a child for several years. How much physical care is involved depends greatly on the age of the children. Babies and toddlers are going to require much more hands-on care than teenagers, but older children often have more emotional and mental health needs that can be just as difficult as getting up in the middle of the night or changing diapers.

It’s also important to consider the mental and emotional health of the potential guardian and factor in that everyone will be grieving. While many people are capable of rising to the occasion when necessary, naming someone who is mentally and emotionally stable and is able to provide support even in their own grief can ensure your children have what they need.

5. Similarity of Lifestyle

Losing a parent is a major trauma in and of itself, and it can be very challenging for a child to deal with major changes to their lifestyle in the aftermath. When choosing a guardian, think about whether they already live a similar lifestyle and will be able to provide consistency after your death. It can help to choose someone who already engages in the same type of activities your family enjoys or who comes from the same cultural or religious background. While a child’s physical and emotional safety is always the most important factor, considering these other factors can ensure that you’re making the best choice possible for all of your child’s needs.

6. Willingness to Serve

It’s always important to talk with any potential guardian to ensure that they are willing to serve in this role. It’s a big responsibility, and it’s critical for the well-being of everyone involved that the guardian knows what’s involved and willingly consents. You may also want to consider naming a backup guardian or two in case the original person is no longer able or willing to care for the child if and when the time comes.

Having an estate plan in place that includes a guardian for your child can bring you peace of mind and provide security for your child if something happens to you. Call 305-359-3888 to schedule a free consultation with Perez-Roura Law to ensure your estate plan is complete and up to date.

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