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What criteria should California parents use to pick a guardian?

There's nothing more important in our lives than our children.

There's nothing more important in our death than our children, either.

Parents of minor children in California do everything they can to make sure their kids' have the best life possible. A nice environment to grow up. A home that makes them feel safe. Good school. Involvement in sports and other hobbies.

But what happens if you die suddenly? Who would raise your children the way you would raise them?

For parents of minor children, the most important part of their estate plan is designating a guardian for their children - just in case. Sometimes, the decision is easy; sometimes it is very hard. Here are some factors to consider as you select a guardian for your kids.

  1. Where does the guardian live? Is there room in their home to take in your kids? Would they have the ability to relocate if not?
  2. Does the guardian share your political, moral and religious beliefs? This person will help to shape your child's beliefs, so you want to make sure your thoughts are on the same track. They won't be identical, but you'll want them to be relatively close.
  3. How old is the guardian you plan to choose? While age can bring financial security and perhaps more time to spend with the kids, an older guardian also might not relate to current trends in society. An older guardian could pass away before the kids reach adulthood. Younger guardians might have financial insecurity, career concerns or other issues you must consider.
  4. Do you know the guardian's parenting philosophies? How do they feel about school, discipline and other activities? If your prospective choice has kids, watch and learn.
  5. Will all members of the guardian's family welcome your children? Does the guardian have a spouse or significant other who might affect the arrangement? How stable is their marriage?
  6. How committed is the guardian to raising your children? Are you convinced that this person would willingly serve should the need arise? Don't forget to name a backup in case, should you pass away, the guardian you have named cannot serve as guardian.

Younger people often don't think they need an estate plan. Their lives are ahead of them. But should the unthinkable happen, you want your children to be protected. An estate planning attorney can put your mind to rest.

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