For families living in Florida, choosing a guardian for their minor children is a primary reason why a Florida Will is such an important document to create and keep updated.
Often choosing who will care for your children is a difficult decision. Many families find it the hardest decision that they make in terms of estate planning. This is one area where it is common for the husband and wife to have completely different views of who should raise their children in the event that both the husband and wife die prior to the children reaching the age of 18.
First it is important to know that the planning is more important than agreeing with your spouse. Although it can create some tension between spouses, it is important to know that should one of you predecease the other, and then the surviving spouse gets to make their own decision anyway. Also, as long as one of you lives until the children reach the age of 18, it will not matter who you choose.
It is more important to discuss the reasons with each other and if possible come to a decision as to what is important to each of you than to try to come to a decision that one of you does not agree with.
The Georgia Wills, Trust, and Estate Planning Blog has an article on choosing the right guardian for your children where the break down the process into three steps. This three-step approach should make the process easier to accomplish without damaging the marriage.
Step 1 Make a list of people – make it long and include everyone that would make a better home for your children than the foster care system.
Step 2 Decide What Matters the Most – choose factors that are important and rank them in an order of priority. Some examples are maturity and patience, parenting style, religious beliefs, values, ability to care for additional children, and do not forget their willingness to serve (don’t forget to ask them)…
Step 3 Match People to the Priorities – rank and evaluate your choices. Listen to each other and try to come up with a coherent reason for the choices you will make as a couple, or individually. Remember you may not be exactly happy with your spouses’ choice, but if you live longer you get to change your mind anyway. Perhaps its better to come up with someone you can both agree upon in case you both die simultaneously.
To choose a guardian properly, you should make a valid Florida will. Please contact a Florida Will Attorney or Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to help you prepare valid documents that accomplish your goals.