#RichLifeLawyer Podcast 002: How to Choose a Guardian for Your Children

#RichLifeLawyer Podcast 002: How to Choose a Guardian for Your Children

I’ve helped a ton of people with their estate plans and a question I often get, and in fact, a question that often holds people up from taking action at all is:

How Do I Choose a Guardian for My Children?

It’s such an important decision and there are so many factors that go into it that actually making a final decision can be very difficult.

In today’s podcast episode I tackle that exact question, giving you five tips to help you choose a guardian for your children.

Here are those five tips. To get the explanation behind them, click the play button above.

  1. There is no perfect match;
  2. If you don’t pick a judge will pick for you;
  3. Make formal;
  4. Ask the person;
  5. Choosing one doesn’t freeze out the others.

If you don’t have time to listen you can read the transcript below.


Christopher Small

P.S. Do you have kids? Have you completed guardianship paperwork? Have you done it correctly? Click here to find out what happens if you don’t do anything: Are you okay with a judge choosing the guardians of your children?

P.P.S. Do you own a business? Do you have a plan so the business, and your family, can survive if something happens to you? If not, click here to learn how simple it is to protect your business and your family from tragedy: 5 Ways to Protect Your Business from Catastrophic Failure.

P.P.P.S. Do you have no kids and think you don’t need an estate plan? Single and think a will is only for married couples. You couldn’t be more wrong. Click here to learn more: 5 reasons estate planning is a must have even if you don’t have kids.

Christopher Small is a Kirkland estate planning attorney who helps people get rich and live forever. He is also the owner of CMS Law Firm LLC.

Transcript of How to Choose a Guardian for Your Children

Hey everybody welcome to episode two of The Rich Life Lawyer Podcast. I’m your host, Christopher Small. I’m the owner of CMS Law Firm and a Seattle/Bellevue estate planning attorney. I’m excited to be here with you today. It is super nice outside that I’m locked in here trying to hook you all up with some great information and that’s what we’re going today. One of the things that, apart a lot of families and a lot of people that know they should have will, know they should choose a guardian, but don’t.

And a lot of the times the things holding them back is actually trying to figure out who that person would be that they would choose. And today on this episode by the time that we’re done here, hopefully you’ll see that the decision isn’t that difficult and you also see that choosing someone or picking someone is way way better than not picking someone.

So, I came up with a list of five things to sort of think about or ponder or just to know as you are. Going on this journey and they threw a bonus number six in at the end. But let’s just dive right into it. So first thing’s first. When you’re thinking about choosing a guardian it’s important to really understand. And consciously realize that there is not ever going to be a perfect match for the person that you choose right?

There is no you out there other than you. You as a family, you have specific ideas about the way that you want to raise your kids, about where you want to live, that all that stuff. And never going to find anyone that’s exactly like you. That’s just how we all, are all snowflakes, we’re all snowflakes but it’s very true. When you’re thinking about choosing a guardian when you’re making a decision, it’s really critical right now on the things that are most important to you and then make sure the person that you choose checks those box, boxes. Something to think about, location, religious views, if those are important to you, political views of if those are important to you, I know someone that would that told me they would never have their child live in a democratic house or republican house and that’s okay. That’s in, that’s fine. These are your choices.

So, if we have a location, we have religious views, spiritual views, political views. The way that you want your kids to be raised. You know just in general. Discipline. All these things right that are, you know one thing about financial means of the people that you’re choosing potentially if it’s important to you. But the sooner you accept that, there’s not going to be a perfect match and the easier it becomes then to choose someone. So that’s tip number one.

Tip number two, this isn’t critical, this is the most important thing to remember and it doesn’t get you to act and nothing else probably will but if you don’t pick, if you don’t choose a guardian, then someone is going to pick for you. And it’s not going to be anyone in your family, it’s not going to be your friend, it’s going to be a judge and this judge is not going to know anything about you, it’s not going to know any of those things that are important to you, whether it be location or religious views, political views or or educational views, anything.

The judge is not gonna know these things about you. Yes he may hear some information from other people but that information may not go together. For example, your parents may, believe that you want to raise your kids one way and your spouse’s parents, may believe that they want to raise the kid another way. So the judge is gonna get conflicting testimony and he’s just gonna to have to choose what he thinks is right.

And that is a decision that I would not want to leave outside of my own control. I have two kids and about to have another one and I would never want anyone to make that decision other than my wife and I. In particular some that doesn’t even know who we are so. Remember that, that if you don’t choose someone else is going to choose for you and the other thing too is that process often creates a lot of conflict within your family. And you have to think, that they’re already going to be dealing with their loss but they’re probably are isn’t to be more than one person that thinks they should be the guardian of your kid or your kids. And you the only way that they’re going to be able to make that decision is sort of. You know. Fight it out amongst each other and that’s not something I want my family, I’m sure it’s not something that you want for your family.

The third tip here is that and this is actually not a self interested statement, it’s a fact. You have to make it formal. You can’t write something on the back of a napkin. You can’t type up something on a piece of paper and leave it somewhere for someone to find it in Washington State at least. It’s supposed to be inside of your will. It’s supposed to be an item within your will. Nominating who you want to be your guardian. So remember that. That’s not to say that the judge won’t accept or pay to do something that’s on the back of a napkin but if you wanted to be that kind of a thing with the judge, sort of rubber stamp your choice, then you have to make it formal and the only way that you can do that is with a will. And you should have a will anyway, by the way that’s time, that’s a cover for another podcast but you should. Alright, tip number three.

Tip number four. To actually think you picked the right person, you have to talk to that person. Ok so, the way to choose your correct a guardian or choose a guardian for your kids, is to actually go and ask the person. Tell them that you’ve been thinking about this, that these are things that are important to you. And then you got that they were the best match. For those things that are important to you in and for whatever other reason. And then ask them if they would be willing to accept that responsibility something will ever happened you. And if they say no, that’s ok. Here’s how to ask someone else but when you rather know now than later, you know when you don’t have the option to pick someone else, you know be gone for the court and say look, I’m just not qualified for as i can’t hear this right now I’m gonna have to decline. You know I’m so sad about this but I can’t, I can’t accept this. There’s guardianship, I can’t do it. That’s tip four.

Tip five, it’s important to remember I think this is something holds on people up. Is that, choosing a guardian doesn’t eliminate or freeze out any of your other family members. And that’s really really critically important to remember. Because you have to think the, person that becomes the guardian of your kid is going to be accepting a tremendous amount of responsibility. Everyone else that is related to you or is friends with you gets to just continue to have that relationship with your child that they’ve always had. That’s why you know it may not be a good choice to nominate a grandparent.

Because they may become a parent you know you. And you know what the difference is in the time and effort. And the expense. That it takes for someone to become a parent. And what that eliminates is their ability to continue with that grandparent role. Same with aunts and uncles you know it’s important to member that those people don’t stop being your child’s aunt and uncle or grandparents. If you choose someone else to be your guardian. They get to continue to have that relationship and sort of hold that title with your kids. And I think that’s something that really, it’s, people are afraid of hurting someone else’s feelings by not choosing them as a guardian but they have to remember that relationship continues.

Okay and then because I like to give you guys bonuses, and you guys don’t you know this because this is only episode number two but I do like to give bonuses. Number six in appointing to consider when you’re treating a guardian is to, if you’re going to choose two people, if you are going to nominate two people at once like a husband and a wife, it’s important to think about and consider what would happen if one or the other of those people were not around. Would you want to have that other person on their own raise your kids.

For example if you were going to choose a sister and a brother in law. You have to make the decision if you’re going to choose both, knowing that if something happens to your sister or your brother in law would then be the one that’s nominated to raise the kids on their own. And maybe that’s okay with you. Maybe it’s not. But it’s just something to consider. I typically recommend that people nominate only one person to be a guardian. And one person to be a backup because it’s just simpler that way. So anyway, that’s it for today. So hopefully you now have a good foundation for choosing a guardian and you can take the next step and get their will done to get that guardianship done. It’s not extremely expensive at all and it’s really really critically important to protecting your family. If something should ever happen to you. So that’s it for today, with that, I will say good bye. Bye bye.