How To Pick the Best Guardian For Your Children in New Jersey

One of the most important and often overlooked elements of a strong Estate Plan is guardianship. Estate Planning is the process of working with an attorney to create a legally binding program for what will happen to your property and belongings (known as your estate) and your money (known as your assets) after you pass away. The standard entry point to Estate Planning is writing a Will, but there is much more to the process than just that.

As part of your Estate Plan, you can select potential guardians for your children. These are who you choose to raise your children if anything should happen to you before they turn eighteen. If you die without selecting your preferred guardian, the state of New Jersey works to select one for you. Estate Planning allows you to make the decision for yourself.

In New Jersey, there are two different kinds of guardianship: Guardianship of the Estate and Guardianship of the Person. Guardianship of the Estate refers to whoever has permission to handle the financial affairs of the children and whatever assets they inherit through your Estate Plan. Depending on the arrangement, the Guardian of the Estate may also have permission to make decisions about health care, schooling, or other life choices for the children.

Guardianship of the Person refers to whoever you elect to live with and raise your children. This is who you traditionally think of as being their guardian. One person (or a couple) can cover both Guardianship of the Estate and Guardianship of the Person simultaneously, if you choose. If there are people you think would be better suited to one job over the other, you can choose to divide them. If your sister Marcy is great with kids but bad with money and your cousin Brian is excellent with finances but a perennial bachelor, you can see the advantages of splitting the guardianship roles up.

So how do you choose who will be the best guardian for your children? First of all, you should select someone who shares your moral values and parenting styles. This lets your children be raised how you would yourself, as well as making the transition easier on them. You should include some instructions and important major points in your Estate Plan.

Another factor is that your children will likely move in with their guardian, so consider the physical location of your choice. Moving to another state may make things even more difficult for your children. If your child has special needs, there are special provisions you can make for them as well. You are not limited to exclusively picking one person or a couple. Making back-up choices is always recommended, in case your first choice is unable to fulfill the guardianship for any reason.

Picking your ideal guardian is a complex decision you must make yourself. At Dublin Packard, we make the rest of the Estate Planning process as simple as possible. If you are ready to protect your family and make a plan for your future, contact Dublin Packard today! We set your family up for life!

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Todd Murphy

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