Over half of the adults in the United States do not have valid estate plans in place, creating multiple problems for those they leave behind. If a person is leaving behind children, then the situation could quickly deteriorate. Recently, the Department of Human Resources in Maryland came under fire for a series of choices that ultimately led to foster children paying for their own care.

Many of the children involved were disabled and orphaned, making them extremely vulnerable.  Creating an estate helps you to protect your children from being at the mercy of the state’s government and gives you a chance to make sure your children are left in the right hands. These tips for appointing a guardian may help you make one of the most difficult and important choices in your life.

Get a Background Check

The idea of asking a friend or relative to undergo a background check may seem a bit over the top, but it is something that every parent should consider. No matter how many years you have known each other and how deep your blood bonds are, it is possible that the guardian you are considering has a past that you should take into consideration before leaving your children to him or her. There are numerous private companies that will perform a background check with the subject’s permission. If the person you are considering refuses to go through a background check, then you might want to give appointing them a second thought.

Ask Everyone First

Asking people for their opinion may seem like common sense, but it is a step many parents overlook. Talk to the people you are considering naming as guardians about how they feel about taking care of your children permanently. Also, talk to the friends or family members you are not choosing to ensure that there are no hard feelings or jealousy caused by your naming someone else. Lastly, talk to your children to ask how they feel about your choice. Leaving your children with a person they do not like or naming a person who does not want children could create a stressful and awkward situation for everyone.

Discuss Parenting Style

Not every parent has the same set of values or styles of parenting. Before naming someone as a guardian, discuss that person’s core values and what he or she will be raising your child to believe. If you have any strong opinions on certain subjects that you want your child shielded from, appointing someone who shares your beliefs is probably the best idea. When you decide to appoint a person who has some differing ideas on child rearing, get things in writing. It helps to define what rights your choice has as a guardian so that there is no confusion in the future.

Make an Appointment

Talking about your guardian choices is a good first step, but it is important to remember to follow through. Making an appointment with a trust and estate planning attorney is necessary if you want to make your decision official. The team at MMZ Law is here to help you prepare for your children’s future. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at our Claremont, California office so that we can begin discussing the legacy you are leaving your children.



341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.