Leanna, now that I have a baby, I guess we need a will. What do we do next?
I replied that the main thing she and her husband need to decide is - in the event of a tragedy, who would they like to raise their child? Some of the things I advised them to consider are:
- Who most closely matches your parenting philosophy? If you co-sleep, home-school and practice gentle discipline, consider the parenting style of the proposed guardians and where your children would feel most comfortable being raised in a manner you would have chosen for them.
- What age/health are the proposed guardians? Your mother loves your children, there is no doubt about that. But that doesn't mean that she should be the guardian of them. Consider her age, health, living arrangements (is there room for your three moppets in her 1 bedroom apartment?), and lifestyle (does she love to travel at the drop of a hat, or does she barely leave the house?) It might be more appropriate to choose someone closer to your age, maybe with similar aged children.
- Where are the proposed guardians located? You'll have to consider whether your choice of guardian would cause the children to be moved across the country to live with their guardians, or whether they could stay in the same school and neighborhood.
- Do you want to choose an individual or a married couple? Whether you've chosen your best friend from high school or your brother, you need to consider whether you want to name that person's spouse as well. Remember, they could get divorced which could complicate the scenario. You might be better off just naming one person, with an alternate named if the first guardian is unavailable.
- Once you've made your choice, have a conversation with your proposed guardian about it. Then contact your attorney to draft the will before you change your minds. Also, you might want to write letters, to be kept with the will, to people who might be upset by your choice explaining why you chose the guardians you chose. Hopefully these letters will never need to be read, but they will help smooth things over if they ever are.