Gregory L. Williams
How to Choose a Guardian
Getting hurt, becoming disabled, or getting older and less cognizant are real-life possibilities we should all plan for before it’s too late. By taking the time to set up a well-rounded estate plan now, you could save your loved ones a lot of future conflicts — not to mention ensuring that your wishes are respected if worse comes to worst.
What Is Guardianship?
In broad terms, “guardianship” refers to a person’s legal responsibility and authority to care for another person, as well as that person’s property and finances. When it comes to estate planning, the term refers to two distinct concepts:
- How your health care, finances, and related matters are handled in the event you become incapacitated, and
- What happens to your minor children should you become incapacitated or lose your life.
Choosing a guardian isn't a simple task. Whoever you grant that title to will be responsible for major decisions about the people, property, and possessions that matter most to you. That’s why it’s extremely important you take the time to set up your estate plan the right way and with an experienced local attorney — one who is both familiar with Ohio guardianship laws and genuinely invested in your family’s well-being.
How to Choose a Guardian for Yourself
When deciding who to appoint as your legal guardian, it’s important to remember that their role isn’t going to be small, simple, or short-lived. Whoever you choose should be someone you trust and believe others will listen to in the event they need to step in and be your advocate. Therefore, choosing the right guardian means looking beyond today’s concerns and asking yourself some hard questions:
- Does this person share (or at least respect) my beliefs and values?
- Does this person have what it takes to make tough decisions?
- Will this person command the authority needed to carry out my wishes?
- Will this person be proactive in their duty to handle my care?
- Do I trust this person to make responsible financial decisions on my behalf?
- Overall, am I confident this person will be a strong advocate for me when I can’t advocate for myself?
Answering these questions may not be a walk in the park, but keep in mind, if you don’t pre-select your legal guardian while in a healthy mental state, they will be chosen for you by an Ohio probate court.
How to Choose a Guardian for Your Kids
If you're a parent to minor children, setting up your estate plan correctly is essential. As with adult guardianship, your children’s guardian will be court-appointed if you don’t take the steps to legally declare one before he or she is needed.
In many ways, choosing a guardian for your kids is like choosing a guardian for yourself. Without question, you want someone responsible, invested, and able to make tough decisions. Ideally, you also want that person to share your core values and beliefs. To that end, make sure you’re asking yourself these questions in addition to those listed above:
- Will this person instill the right values upon my kids?
- Does this person have what it takes to be both an advocate and a disciplinarian?
- Will my children respect and respond to this person?
- Is this person emotionally and financially stable?
- Overall, do I truly believe this is the best person to take over the parenting of my children?
Selecting the right guardian(s) for your estate plan is an important decision, fortunately, you don’t have to figure out the entire process on your own. If you haven’t set up your estate plan yet, or simply have more questions about guardianship laws in the Columbus, Ohio area, I invite you to reach out and schedule a one-on-one consultation.