Estate planning (ICE): guardianship
June 26, 2015
This is the toughest question.
How do you choose a guardian for your child?
Right off, my immediate family is off the list. No way I’d trust my sibling or my father with the care and raising of LB, period.
Not even if they had enough income to do so. But of course I would expect to leave our entire estate in trust with annual disbursement allowances for care and maintenance and education and I doubly wouldn’t trust either one of them not to be completely foolish or selfish. (Can you really double zero trust? Just for emphasis.)
So that’s right out. And so are just about all my extended family half of whom I wouldn’t trust farther than I could heave a tree stump with a candy bar, much less my child.
Then we have to think about what we’re looking for in substitute parents which is what guardians would ideally be.
Who has the same values as we do?
Who has similar, or equally valuable, life experiences that they can pass on?
Who has a good grasp of setting boundaries and enforcing discipline?
Who has some experience in parenting and therefore understands inherently that every child is different?
I have a horror of leaving LB to guardians who think children should be cookie cutter personalities, or that they have to be pushed to excel beyond their limits, or any number of unreasonable things.
And it’s not all about LB. Seamus is going to need a good home and care as well. I’d much rather they stayed together but it’s possible that could be harder.
If they can’t stay together, if the best home for LB isn’t one that can take him on, then we just need to find them best home for him, period. He is well liked by one set of friends but he hasn’t earned the place in their hearts where they ask for him to come visit for weekends and longer just because they love having him around. That was Doggle. If we had a terrible accident I always knew we had at least one friend who positively doted on Doggle and would have taken him in immediately. (Yes I am absolutely planning on leaving the dog a bequest. How could I not? He’s still our responsibility and dog cannot live on love alone.) He, and any other companion critters we might adopt, will still need homes, food and veterinary care.
At this time, I have one family member who knows me best and respects me as an adult person. That’s probably going to be my first choice for LB – this person was close to me and my mom and so would know how to substitute for me. Next best would be a couple of friends I love and respect but I’m not totally sure if I could ask them for such a big favor.
PiC is likely to nominate someone on his side.
We’ll have to pick one person to be the first choice rather than co-guardians as that could be confusing for LB and complicated as well. Either way we go, I feel like LB risks losing touch with some of hir family because our two families don’t have much to do with each other.
Ultimately, this stage of planning, unlike any other, seriously underscores how important it is that we stay alive and well.