How to Choose a Guardian of the Person

A Guardian of the Person is responsible for raising your child if you die and ensures the general safety, protection, and physical and emotional growth of your child over the course of his or her life.

If the child's other natural parent is alive and capable, then he or she will likely be named as guardian. Still, it's a good idea to make arrangements for a scenario in which neither parent is able to serve.

Factors to consider when naming a Guardian of the Person

Some factors to consider when choosing a Guardian of the Person include: 

  • Values: Does the guardian share your beliefs, principles, and philosophy of life? Will the guardian be able to raise your child according to your values? 
  • Personality and lifestyle: What kind of person is the guardian, and what kind of life does the guardian live? Are the guardian’s personality and lifestyle compatible with your child’s personality and interests? 
  • Religious views: Does the guardian share your religious views? Will the guardian be able to raise your child according to your religious views? 
  • Parenting style: If the guardian is already a parent, what is his or her parenting style like? Is it similar to your own style or very different? Do you think your child would thrive with the guardian’s style of parenting? 
  • Ability to act as a guardian: Can the guardian handle the responsibilities and duties that come with the guardianship? Do they have the resources necessary to raise a child? Resources may include time, energy, health, financial ability, and emotional wherewithal. 
  • Existing relationship with the child: Does the child already know the guardian? Do the child and the guardian like each other and have a friendly, healthy relationship? 
  • Location: Does the guardian live near you, or far away? Would placing the child with the guardian require the child to leave his or her home and community? 

Choosing a guardian can be tough for many people, especially in cases of choosing one family member over another, or choosing a friend over a family member. Keep in mind that the decision you’re making is first and foremost about your child’s welfare. While a choice of guardian can signify your love and trust for the guardians you’ve chosen, that choice does not necessarily imply a lack of love or trust for those who were not chosen as guardians. If you anticipate that feelings will be hurt by your choice of guardian, it can be helpful to talk about your choice with other family or friends.

Successor Guardian of the Person

In order to be as thorough as possible, you’ll want to name not only a Guardian of the Person, but also a successor guardian as well as an alternative successor guardian. The successor guardian will become the guardian in the event that the primary guardian should be unable to serve as guardian for any reason, and the alternative successor guardian will serve as guardian if neither the primary guardian or successor guardian is able to serve. When choosing a successor guardian, follow the same guidelines as when choosing a primary guardian.

To learn about the duties and responsibilities of a Guardian of the Person, see our article Guardian of the Person.

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