Guardianship: If You Don’t Choose A Judge Will

Guardianship: If You Don’t Choose A Judge Will

I have two kids, Blakely and Jackson. I have a third on the way (here VERY soon).

I could not imagine a life without my kids.

I can not imagine leaving my kids before I’m good and ready to.

But tragedies strike every day. Everyone has a story of someone that left this world too early.

So, while guardianship is a subject that isn’t fun or easy to tackle, it is a subject that we MUST take care of.

If You Don’t Nominate a Guardian a Judge Will Choose for You

I wouldn’t want a judge to choose someone to go through my emails, much less take of and guide my children through the rest of their lives.

Yet this is the outcome if you don’t nominate a guardian yourself.

A judge is tasked with this decision because they are thought to be a neutral arbiter of the situation. Their job is to make the best decision possible given the information they have.

But, there is something missing when a judge makes this decision: they have no idea who you were and what was important to you.

For this reason, their own biases can’t help but come into play.

I’m sure we can all think of people that are perfectly good parents at arms length but you would not want to raise your kids. The reason for this is simple: people value different things as being more important than others.

Here is a short list of some of the things that might be important to you but not to someone else:

  • Religious beliefs;
  • Political beliefs;
  • Geographical preference;
  • Educational beliefs;
  • Disciplinary beliefs;
  • Monetary beliefs and strategies;
  • And on and on.

Could you see how a judge could make a decision that from afar looks like a perfectly reasonable choice but knowing who you are specifically makes it a terrible decision?

If you don’t want to leave your guardianship decisions up to someone else then you must make the nomination.

Guardianship Nomination in Washington State

Many people think they can simply write something down on a piece of paper and that will be good enough.

Many people think they should name different guardians for each of their children.

In fact, valid guardianship nominations in Washington State can only be made in a validly executed will. It’s a rule.

Now, you can create a will yourself, but it’s a little complicated (click here to learn the intricacies of a will) and one wrong move can have devastating consequences.

You usually hire someone to sell your house and fix your car. You hire someone when you are sick and to fix your teeth. Doesn’t it make sense to hire someone to make sure your kids are taken care of by the right person?

Having Trouble Choosing a Guardian?

I’ve talked to hundreds and hundreds of families about guardianship, and a common theme among parents is a difficulty choosing a single person to nominate.

It’s a big decision and most people are worried about making the wrong choice.

The perspective to take, though, is this: if you don’t pick a judge is going to. Is the person you are considering the best you have considering the circumstances (and understanding that no one is ever going to be as good as you)?

If the answer is yes, then you’ve made a good choice.

If you need more help, call me at 206.659.1512.


Christopher Small
CMS Law Firm LLC
150 Lake St., Suite 227
Kirkland, WA 98033