How should new parents choose a guardian?

Among the many things new parents should focus on is solidifying an estate plan to protect their kids in case they die.

People in Missouri who are welcoming their first babies into the world certainly learn quickly that their lives will never truly be the same again. Being thrust into a role that requires one to be so fully responsible for another person's well-being is completely unique to parenthood.

In addition to the daily responsibilities of providing food, shelter and love to a new baby, moms and dads should take the opportunity to also consider long-term plans for their new loves. Because life does not always go according to plan, these plans should include the selection of a guardian to raise a child in the parents' absence.

The right guardian may not always be the obvious choice

As explained by Parenting magazine, many people automatically look to their parents, siblings or other relatives when thinking of who should take care of their children. While these people may be viable options, there are situations when looking beyond family relations might lead parents to the best decision for their kids.

In addition, it is important for parents to identify not only a first choice for a guardian but also at least one alternative in the event that the first person or persons named ends up being unable to take on the task if and when ever needed.

Many factors should be evaluated

When deciding who is best suited to be a child's guardian, a variety of factors should be considered. Forbes recommends making a list of the religious, educational, moral and general lifestyle values that parents wish their children to be raised with. Thinking carefully about what the daily life of their child with another person or family would look like is also wise.

When considering the guardians themselves, it is important to review their emotional, financial and physical health as part of identifying their readiness for the role of a guardian.

Guardianship is only one part of the equation

NerdWallet recommends that establishing a guardianship is not the only thing parents should do at this point. A will or trust should also be established so that there is someone designated to be in charge of the money and assets that may be used to help raise the children. Beneficiaries for life insurance policies, retirement accounts and more should also be selected with this in mind.

Not a one-time exercise

Choosing a guardian is like any other estate planning activity in that it is not simply done once. These documents and decisions should be reviewed regularly and updated as needed based on changes in the lives of the parents and the people identified as guardians, executors and trustees.

Working with an experienced lawyer is recommended for new parents in Missouri so that they have the right guidance to help them make plans to protect their children.