In Arizona, when you establish a last will and testament or an estate plan with a revocable trust with the advice and guidance of a Phoenix estate planning attorney, you will have the opportunity to name a guardian for your minor child or children if you should pass away or become incapacitated.
If you are a parent, and if you are struggling with the idea of selecting a guardian, you are not alone. Many parents in Arizona actually put off preparing a last will and testament or setting up a revocable trust because they can’t make a decision about a guardian.
What needs to be taken into account when you select a guardian for your minor child or children? Will you be able to change your selection in the future if a change is warranted? If you are a parent in the State of Arizona, keep reading for the answers you may need.
What Must Be Considered When You Designate a Guardian?
Listed below are ten considerations that you should take into account when you designate a guardian for your minor child or children:
- Your choice of a guardian is not necessarily a permanent choice. You can always revise a last will and testament or an estate plan with a revocable trust when and if a revision is warranted.
- If you have elderly parents, they might not be the best choice to act as guardians. Your parents may be healthy now, but as the years pass, they may be facing their own health issues and may not have the energy to raise a teenager.
- If you end up choosing your parents as guardians, also designate an alternate guardian so that your parents may decline if they feel that they cannot act as guardians when and if that time comes.
- Who would take care of your child right now if you were suddenly and unexpectedly killed, incapacitated, or disabled in some kind of accident? The person who would take care of your child right now may be the person you should choose as a guardian.
- The right choice for a guardian may be a close family friend with children the same age as yours. If you have such a friend, and if that person is willing and able, it’s a choice that could provide structure and familiarity at a critical time in your child’s life.
- If you and your spouse (or your ex-spouse) disagree about who should be named as a guardian for your child or children, try to find a way to compromise. One option might be to divide up the duties of care, by having one person act as guardian and another act as conservator.
- Do not let a stranger make this decision for you. If you fail to name a guardian for your minor child or children, in a worst-case scenario, an Arizona judge will appoint a guardian for your child or children, and you will have no say in that decision.
- Find out who your child would like to live with if the worst should happen. Your child’s preference should be an important consideration. In fact, a child of 14 or over has a right to nominate and object to a proposed guardian in Arizona.
- Realize that no one will be a perfect choice as your child’s guardian, because the best guardian for your child is you.
- Have an in-depth discussion with the person you select before you put that person’s name in your last will and testament. Make sure that the person you choose understands the responsibilities of guardianship and is willing and able to be a guardian.
What Mistakes Should You Avoid?
It is important to name a guardian for your minor child or children as early as possible, but it is also a decision that cannot be made in haste. Be careful to avoid making any of the following mistakes when you designate a guardian in your last will and testament or other estate plan:
- Not leaving detailed instructions for raising your children: Do you want your child or children to attend a particular school, practice a particular faith, or adhere to a particular diet? You should leave instructions that are precise and explicit.
- Failing to specify who should not be a guardian of your child: Even if it hurts someone’s feelings, you must make your convictions known. If there is an ex-spouse, aunt, uncle, or anyone else who should not be a guardian, put it in writing with your attorney’s help.
- Do not name a family member or a close friend as a guardian for your child or children just because that person has been pressuring or intimidating you. In fact, pressure and intimidation are usually good reasons to choose someone else.
The Necessity of Planning
Designating a guardian for your minor child or children is only one of the reasons why you should consider preparing a last will and testament or setting up a comprehensive estate plan including a revocable trust with the advice and guidance of a Phoenix estate planning lawyer.
You may already know that trusts and wills provide someone’s directions for settling an estate after that person’s death. Anyone who is age 18 or older – and especially if you have a family or own property or a business – should prepare a last will and testament or a revocable trust.
Estate planning basics can be satisfied with a last will and testament alone, but a larger, more complicated estate typically requires setting up a revocable trust. After reviewing your situation, a Phoenix estate planning attorney can recommend whether a trust or a will is best for you.
Should You Have a Comprehensive Estate Plan?
Comprehensive estate planning goes beyond the basics of a revocable trust or a last will and testament. A Phoenix estate planning lawyer can help you set up a comprehensive estate plan that includes a durable power of attorney, a health care power of attorney, and a living will.
An estate planning attorney can also advise you and your family about Medicaid planning, trust administration, and the probate process. Nothing, of course, is more important or requires more planning than our children and their futures.
If you have not named a guardian for your minor child or children in a last will and testament or in an estate plan that includes a revocable trust, contact an estate planning attorney now and schedule a consultation. It’s the right way to protect your child or children and to prepare for whatever the future may bring.