What Makes a Good Guardian?

What makes a good guardian? Creating a will and estate plan means thinking about those you leave behind after you die. If you have young children, wards or even beloved pets, your will should also include naming a guardian. So, what do you look for in a guardian?

What makes a good guardian? An image of a person writing a will and estate with a quill pen.
Find the right guardian.
A Guardian’s Role

Firstly, after your death, a guardian will bear responsibility for the care of those named. Most commonly this refers to minor children under the age of 18. A guardian provides basic necessities, medical care, education and support until the child reaches 18 years old. They must act in the best interests of the child.

Common Guardian Nominees

Usually, the other parent or a stepparent may be named as guardian of young children. While tempting to name your parents (after all, they raised you), consider the likelihood of them outliving you. More commonly siblings, close friends, or other adult children make good nominees to serve as guardians. In the best scenarios, the adult already knows the child and their personality well.

Important Attributes

Most importantly, a prospective guardian should have the physical and mental abilities as well as the financial stability to care for a child. They should also be dependable and trustworthy. In addition, beyond that baseline, you’ll have to consider who would best fill your role in your absence. Who shares your core values and beliefs? Who would parent your child in a manner similar to how you would? Guardians should also have the patience to support a child through the traumatic experience of losing their parent.

Consent to Serve as Guardian

This should go without saying. However, we’ll just put this right here: you should always ASK someone before naming them guardian of your child. In the event of your untimely death, named guardians should be aware of their new responsibilities. Having a named person unable or unwilling to serve as your child’s guardian could be doubly devastating for them.

Backup Plans

To lessen the anxiety of finding THE guardian, parents should consider naming additional adults to serve as backup guardians. Things happen and even a well-informed, amenable first choice may have to bow out. Having multiple options can lessen the burden on someone who may no longer be in a position to serve as guardian.

Periodically Review

As with most aspects of an estate plan, it makes sense to revisit guardian selection on a regular basis. Divorces, fallings out, or other unfortunate events could make previously ideal guardians no longer the best choices. Of course, you should make those impacted by your changes aware of them. ​

Every parent of young children should include guardianship as part of their estate planning. Knowing what makes a good guardian is only part of the equation. We know that every client has unique situations, and we take the time to understand your needs and wishes. Then we’ll offer advice on your best options. Call John A. Cochran, Esquire, in Greensburg at 724-216-5180 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation.

What Makes a Good Executor?

We’ve been telling people for a while now that you need a will.

Read more here—> https://www.jacochranlaw.com/reminder-you-need-will

Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s even more: https://www.thebalance.com/why-you-need-a-will-1289264

Likewise, you can find many more reasons why you should have a will anywhere on the web.

For those trying to do the right thing, after beneficiaries, the next question becomes who will serve as executor? This is an important decision. But before you decide, we’ve created this post to help you think about what makes a good executor.

Image of a hand stamping a last will and testament.
Family

Most people automatically select a reasonably responsible family member to serve as executor of their will. Usual suspects include spouses, siblings, parents, children or close cousins. One word of caution: you should select at least one person younger than you. After all, not to be rude, but your executor might not outlive you if they are older.

Close Friends

Not everyone has family they can trust. This makes “families of choice” a more viable option to execute a will. Sewing up a clear will and executor clause becomes even more important if there are next of kin. The good news a will can cover that base for you.

Attorney or Other Trusted Professional

Sometimes for a variety of reasons, a person does not have trusted family or friend to name as their executor. Sometimes they just want to minimize any squabbles by putting an independent third party in charge of executing the will. The downside of this arrangement is that your estate will pay a fee for their services.

Limitations

If the person you name as the executor lives in another state, you may need to check state laws. Some states have special requirements about family members, bonds to protect heirs from mismanagement, or the appointment of in-state agents. Each state will also set executor fees for third party management, depending on the size of estate.

Replace Only if Necessary

The bottom line is you want to choose an executor who is mentally and financially stable to do the job. You have to be able to trust they will carry out your wishes as outlined in your will upon your death. If a situation changes that no longer makes your named executor the best option anymore, you can create a codicil. A codicil serves as an amendment to the original will which could name the new executor. You must have it validated just like the original will with two legal witnesses. Placing your trust in an executor to carry out your wishes after your death is no small matter. If you need help putting together a will or want advice on selecting an executor, relax!

What makes a good executor? An image of two hands signing a will document.

Finally, we know that every client has unique situations. However, we take the time to understand your needs and wishes. Then we’ll offer advice on your best options. Call John A. Cochran, Esquire, in Greensburg at 724-216-0704 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation.