One of the more complex topics in estate planning is planning to provide for care for your children and ensuring that the assets you leave behind will be used efficiently and productively for the benefit of your children.

            Imagine a young couple or a single parent with two children.  Estate planning for the parent(s) includes identifying a couple or a person who will become guardian for the children in the event that the children become orphans.  Choosing a guardian(s) requires the following, in the order of importance:

  1. Will your children be raised by guardians who will be loving and caring?
  2. Will your children be raised in a religion/no religion of which you approve?
  3. Will your children have access to high quality education and health care?
  4. Are the guardians from a similar economic and social backgrounds?

            It would be ideal that the parents have friends from similar backgrounds who have children and each set of parents can agree to be guardians for the others’ children. Or, perhaps there are family members who would step up as guardians.

            Each situation is unique and requires a lot of soul searching for both the parents and the would-be guardians.  No matter the situation, there are significant costs of undertaking guardianship for one or more children and those costs must be provided for.  A couple with children of their own might be perfect as guardians for your children, but their home, while ideal for a couple with two children would not accommodate four children and even if the home is adequate, there are significant costs of raising children, food, clothing, and medical insurance and expense are some of the most significant.  Finding the right person or couple to undertake raising your children is a difficult and soul searching undertaking.  And your assets at your death must be available for the cost of raising your children.  There are two issues here:  At your death, will there be sufficient assets to provide for your children; and, how will these assets be held?

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