A Guardianship Panel Allows Flexibility

When it comes to selecting a guardian (i.e. a “backup parent”) for your children, not every parent has a clear-cut decision. Who do you choose if you don’t have extended family with whom you are close? Or what if you are close to your family, but worry that the person who would make the best guardian right now might not be in the same situation years into the future?

We have assisted many parents solve this problem in a very untraditional way. Instead of listing guardians in order of preferment, they nominate a group of trusted friends and family to serve as a “guardianship panel,” to choose a guardian from among them.

The guardianship panel is a comforting solution for many parents because it allows for the natural changes that happen over time; changes in financial situation, physical location, family size, and evolving relationships. The brother and sister-in-law who are the perfect choice right now might not be your first choice 7 years from now when they move across the country. Or perhaps you feel completely comfortable nominating your parents as guardians when they’re in their early 60s, but may feel raising children is too much for them at the age of 75.

If you do choose to nominate a guardianship panel you’ll want to choose a close group of friends and family who not only know you and your children well, but also get along with each other. This group of people may someday have to work together to decide your children’s future, the last thing you will want is petty bickering between them.

Choosing a guardian is often the single most difficult part of creating your estate plan. It is not difficult because it’s complicated, but because it is an issue so very close to the hearts of parents. As such, you should feel completely comfortable with your choice. For some parents that will mean a traditional list of guardians, but others will prefer the flexibility that comes with a guardianship panel. Call our office and let us help you decide which choice may be best for your family.