Choosing a Guardian?

Updated on September 29, 2007
K.B. asks from Minneapolis, MN
8 answers

My husband and I need to put together a will, something we probably should have done a long time ago. But our sticking point is how to choose a guardian and how to inform family about our decision. We don't have any clear-cut family members who could be a guardian to our 15 month old if something happened to us. My parents would be the most logical, since they live nearby and know Matthew well. However, their health is not great--heart and arthritis problems. My in-laws split their time between AZ and SD and our son doesn't know them well. Neither of our siblings is ready for child-rearing responsibilities.
So should we ask friends to be the guardians? It seems like such a huge thing to ask of someone not related to us! Then, if we do ask friends, how do we tell our family that we made that choice? I can see hurt feelings all around...
Has anyone else gone through this process?

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answers from Minneapolis on

My husband & I went through this decision last year when our daughter was turning 1. One of my sisters lives here and adores our daughter but has a lot of inherited financial issues with her husband and his 3 kids and child support. Since we are both from Montana, we used geography as a main reason when we told her we were chosing my other sister to be our daughter's gaurdian.

We both feel that grandparents as gaurdians is unfair to the grandparent/child relationship. But since we both have young parents, my parents are a 2nd choice. Between us we have 2 brothers & 4 sisters.

We chose my sister that I didn't even get along with well when we were children (we're very similar). We wanted to think about our daughter's long-term well being. And since we have 3 sets of parents (my parents are both remairred) we needed someone outgoing enough to keep all of the relatives in the loop. She's great at socializing and her husbands parents are both remarried so she's well versed in balancing all of that "stuff".

Keep in mind that you 1) hopefully won't need this option soon and 2) can change it if your choice changes.

Before we decided, we talked to my sister to see if she was willing to do it. His sister was also a final choice for us, but she was not interested.

We waited to talk to those we were not chooisng until we were completely sure. And then we had to choose the right time - we didn't just tell my sister here just to tell her. We waited until it seemed liked a good time - it actually happened in a conversation that wasn't even planned.

Hope that helps.



answers from Minneapolis on

I SO understand your struggle! We have put off making a Will for years because of this same situation. There really isn't anyone in our families that we would trust or could handle the job of raising our (soon to be) 5 kids. And it's hard to pick someone outside of the family because what would holidays, etc. be like? Like a friend's family is going to want to spend Christmas with my family instead of theirs.
I guess if we had to pick someone it would be my parents because we trust them and since my husband has 2 mil in life insurance they could hire help if they needed it. We have a big house that they could move into with the kids since they live only 2 miles away anyways.
Anyways, good luck with your decision because I know it's a hard one to make.
Best Wishes,



answers from Minneapolis on

Congrats for making a will. My husband and i did this when we had kids. Our choice was clear so I don't have any good advice on how to choose but I would not choose a friend for the fact that some day you may not be friends and then have to go threw the hassel of changing your will. My parents will take the kids since his parents have never seen our 3 kids. My parents are only 50 and in good health so that makes a difference. My two sisters would have joint custody if something happened to my parents. Good luck deciding



answers from Minneapolis on

Just tell you families that multiple factors went into your choice. And remember that you can choose different people to be conservator and guardian for your child. So if you think one person fits your rearing beliefs or choices but you might not trust their financial choices, then you can have someone else keep an eye on the money for educational purposes or whatever.


answers from Minneapolis on

My husband and I are going through this process right now.
Both sets of grandparents are not options physically. My sister has 2 sons... the 14 year old lives with my parents due to her abandoning him when he was 6 and the 7 year old lives with his dad part time and her part time (she always finds a way to get out of taking care of him when it's her weekend). So, she's obviously not a choice - not to mention that men flit in and out of her life in record time.
His sister and husband are an option, phisically, but she is one of those people who doesn't have children but thinks that because she works with them that she knows everything and it all comes from a book.
I told my husband that I don't want someone raising my children when the only thing that we agree on is vaccines.

Our only other option is friends.

One of my best friends and her husband will be our choice as they are christians and very loving and have loving families that we know very well. It is something that we have discussed and she knows how I would want my children raised and that our parenting styles would be quite the same.
I have no qualms about my children being raised by them if something were to happen to us.

Now, to get on with my rambling, no one in my family was offended or hurt.
We still haven't told my husbands sister. She may be a little upset, but I really don't care as this is OUR choice and OUR children that we're thinking of.
My parents and his parents both agreed that they are too old to even consider it anymore and my sister seemed a bit relieved to not have any responsibility looming overhead.



answers from Minneapolis on

I'm a single parent so unfortunately I CANNOT write a will and decide who get's my daughter. Her father who abandoned her at age4 automatcially get's first dibs.

This is such a hard thing to think about and decide. I have made it clear I donot want my daughter to go to my brother's or my father. They have issues and didn't treat me well growing up.

I've told my family though if he doesn't step forward her bio dad, I want my daughter to go to my Aunt who is only 10 years older than I am, wants a child of her own desperately and has good morals and values and coincidentally my daughter resembles her alot and would just fit right in.



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi K.,

My husband and I finally got this done a year ago and what a relief it was. Neither one of us chose our parents because they are quite old (mid to late 70's and 1 grandparent in his 80s)even though they are very loving. We chose my sister as the primary choice even though she is single. She lives near by in MN, adores the kids, and the kids love her. We may not agree on everything but I feel she would raise them the best she could. As a secondary choice, we asked friends of ours who live in NY. My other sister doesn't want kids, and we didn't feel like my husband's brothers (also on the east coast) were up for the task either even though they had kids of their own. Our friends in NY are very close and my husband is like a brother to his friend. I think the most important thing is to have someone you trust who is loving and has your values.

You also want to make sure you have a primary and a secondary choice just in case something were to happen to your first choice. In addition, consider making a living will and setting up an estate. If your insurance benefits and assets when you die are > than 1 million (in MN) your kids would be taxed a lot more than if you have an estate set up. I know a million seems like a lot but if you think about how much your life insurance policies are worth plus your home and retirement accounts it quickly adds up. Talk to your lawyer about this when you set up the guardian stuff. They can do it all in one document. That is what we did. We also got to choose who would handle the money in the estate and at what ages the kids would get certain amounts of the estate.



answers from Minneapolis on

If I were you, I would choose your parents since they are closest to your son. You can ALWAYS go back and update your will whenever you want to, and I would go ahead and make one for now and then if something changes or you change your mind, you can change it to someone else. Such as if in a few years, your siblings are more ready for kids, you can change it to them. Good luck...

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