Choosing a guardian for your children in your will

There are a number of things to think about when choosing a guardian for your children in your will. Here are some of the more important things to think about.


Geographic considerations

Ideally, you want the person you are considering to be the guardian to live near you and your children. The closer the better. If they live in the same city, or even in the same part of the city, that’s great. If they live in the same province, that’s pretty good. If they live in the same country, that’s okay.


Do people sometimes choose guardians who live outside of the country? Yes, and that’s not always a bad idea. However, you should keep in mind the disruption that your child will experience if they are forced to move to another country. This is likely to be more disruptive the older your child gets.


Age of guardian

I would usually recommend against picking a senior citizen as a guardian. Likewise, you may also want to avoid picking an 18-year-old. You want someone who’s mature, but not so mature that they’re about to be admitted to a nursing home.


Relationship of guardian to you and your children

It’s best to pick someone who is close to you and your children. This usually is a relative, but it could also be a close personal friend. Remember, it’s a lot to ask of someone to take your children. While the likelihood of you leaving your children orphaned may be small, guardianship is still something that most people won’t be willing to consider taking on unless they happen to be particularly close to you and your children.


Language barriers

Will your children and their possible guardian be able to communicate with each other in the same language? If not, your choice of guardian may not be the right one.


Immigration barriers

Does your choice of guardian have legal immigration status in Canada? If not, would your children be able to legally live, go to school, and eventually work in the country where your guardian lives? If not, you may want to consider other alternatives.


Compatible values

Do you and the person you’re thinking of listing as a guardian share basic values regarding things like raising children and the importance of education? Do you share religious beliefs? If your values are in sync, that’s important. If your core values aren’t compatible, you may want to keep on looking.


Health of guardian

It takes a lot of energy to raise children. Your possible pick for guardian may be the most wonderful person in the world, but if they have too many health problems, then they’re probably not the best candidate.


Financial security of guardian

Money isn’t everything. The ability to provide a safe, stable, loving home is probably more important than the ability to provide wealth. However, you don’t want your children to grow up in abject poverty. If your estate has the funds, it can compensate the guardian of your children for their expenses. However, if your estate doesn’t have the funds, you may want to pick someone who is relatively financially secure.


The other parent’s views

The other parent of your children may have some insights into guardianship candidates. It’s usually better if each parent picks the same person to be the guardian. You and your spouse or partner may have different preferences (for example, you may want to pick one of your siblings and your spouse may want to pick one of their siblings), but coming to a consensus on guardianship is far preferable to a situation in which the wills of the parents are inconsistent with each other on that crucially important choice.

Weninger Zhang

an Association of Independent Law Practices

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