Should You Serve as a Guardian?
When asked to serve as the guardian of someone’s minor children in the event of his/her death, it is usually meant as a compliment that the person trusts you to serve in this important role. While you may fear that you’ll hurt your relationship with that person by saying no, don’t accept this role without giving it serious thought. Consider the following:
Are your lifestyles compatible?
Go over all details involved in raising the children. Will they move in with you? If so, will that mean relocating them far from their current home? What are the parents’ preferences regarding education, religion, lifestyle, and other factors? How well does your family get along with their children? Consider the impact on your children, including the fact that you will probably have less time available for them.
How much financial support will be available?
This involves more than making sure money is available for college and other expenses directly attributable to the children. Additional children in your house will increase many of your bills. Your house may now be too small, requiring an addition to your current home or moving to a larger one.
Are you comfortable taking on responsibility for the children’s finances?
Just because you agree to take physical custody of the children does not mean you must handle their finances. You may feel more comfortable with another person involved to review how the children’s money is spent.
Has a contingent guardian been named?
Find out if a contingent guardian has been named in case you cannot serve. However, don’t use this as an excuse to say yes when you really want to decline. It is better to indicate that you do not want to take on this responsibility now. Also, if your situation changes in the future, inform the parents immediately.