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How do I choose who will be the guardian for my minor children if I die?

Parents of minor children can be rightfully concerned about who will care for their children if they are not able to do so. It would be expected that if one parent is unable to care for the children, custody will go to the other parent. However, what if both parents die or become incapacitated? Who will care for the minor children? It is very possible that arguments between family may ensue over their care.

To assure their children’s care is given to someone of their choosing, parents can consider their options and confirm that the person they would like to have that responsibility is willing to accept it. The person must be at least 18 years of age, of sound mind, and be a Florida resident unless a close blood relative or spouse of one. The prospective guardian should also be someone who has the physical ability, financial capability and the time to dedicate to raising a child. Other considerations should be weighed, such as the impact on the child and their wishes. Will the child have to move? Does the prospective guardian have other children? Does the child already have a relationship with the guardian? Will siblings all go to the same guardian?

Once the decision has been made, the parents can include in their Last Will and Testament a clause that will name a guardian, or co-guardians, in the case of a couple for example, specifically for each of their children. An alternative guardian should also be named in case the named guardian(s) are unable to serve as such.

Completing this important aspect of estate planning, parents, their children and even extended family will appreciate the planning and forethought of making this decision. Parents should contact an estate planning attorney to complete the documents and be sure they are valid in the state of Florida.

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