Factors to Consider When Selecting a Guardian – Willingness to Serve

NB: This post is part of a series discussing factors you should consider when selecting a guardian for your minor children. You can read all these posts here.

When my husband and I were first married and starting our careers, a friend caught me off guard one evening when she asked whether my husband and I would consider being named as guardians of her infant daughter.

I was surprised because both she and her husband had close-knit families, and I assumed that one of their siblings would be their first choice.

Rather than eagerly expressing my willingness to be named as guardian, I explained I wanted to discuss it with my husband first. And while the chance of us having to actually serve as guardians was slim, I admitted that we were probably not ready to be parents yet.

My first reaction was probably not what she expected. After all, we were close enough friends that she actually considered me. And had she asked today, my reaction would probably be different because I am in a different phase of life.

But there is no doubt that my initial reaction made my friend rethink her decision. And for good reason. Because one of the most important factors to consider when selecting a guardian for your children is whether the prospective guardian is willing to serve in that capacity.

Surprisingly, many people appoint a guardian without actually have discussed it with the person they have named. People typically select family members or very close friends to serve as their children’s guardian, and believe that they would willingly take on the responsibility should the need arise.

But this is not always the case. Despite their love for you and your children, life circumstances may cause them to feel like the burdens associated with guardianship would be too great. But you would never know that unless you ask.

Communicating with those you are considering about their willingness to be your children’s guardian serves several purposes:

  • It helps you gauge their willingness to serve as guardian.
  • It reveals any concerns or reservations they may have about being named as guardian.
  • It opens dialogue about other factors that could affect your decision about whom to select as your children’s guardian, such as their parenting style, religious practice, or work schedule.

Your communication with the guardian you select should not stop after your initial discussion. Be sure to revisit this topic annually. Circumstances change. Perhaps the person you have named has unexpectedly becomes a parent again, or has had unexpected financial problems.

While they may have been willing to serve as your children’s guardian at the time you initially approached them, their changed circumstances may cause them to reconsider. But they are unlikely to bring it up unless you do.

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