When you are making out your estate documents and considering what should happen to your assets when you die, consider also the situation where you are alive, but unable to take care of yourself or manage your assets. Who will step in to take over for you when you are not able to do it yourself anymore? What normally happens in this situation is that a guardian is named for you and your estate by the courts. However, know that you can proactively appoint someone to this position before you find yourself in that situation. With that in mind, here are the mistakes you should avoid when naming a guardian.
1) Naming one person. There is a reason why important offices with a number one person have a designated number two, three, and four. They know that if something happens to number one, someone must be there, ready to fill in and take over. The same concept applies when choosing a guardian. If you name one person and one person only, you are betting a lot that this person will step up and take on the role if/when the time comes. It is far better to name a succession of people. It does not hurt to have a first, second, and even third option who can be called upon if the designee is unwilling or unable to do the job when it becomes necessary.
2) Not telling the people you’ve named. Surprises are nice for birthdays, but it is a rare person who is pleasantly surprised that they have been named the guardian for someone without having been consulted as to whether they wanted or would be able to do the job first. Depending upon your situation when a guardianship becomes required, the person named as your guardian may inherit close to a full-time job. It is only fair to ask the people you are considering appointing if they want the job in the first place.
3) Not looking outside of the family. In this day and age, many people’s blood relatives live states or even countries away. In their place, “family” relationships have been filled with friends and honorary family members who, while not related to a person, still hold an important position in their life. When considering who to ask to be your guardian, do not limit yourself to your traditional family. Think about who you trust the most with your affairs. If that is your neighbor rather than your cousin, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Of course, if your cousin is your most trusted person, this is fine, too.
4) Picking someone who is incapable of being approved. Remember that even though your designation of a guardian is made by you in a legal document when you are able to make these decisions on your own, the court is still in charge of actually appointing your guardian. Be mindful of this when choosing your guardian(s) because if your chosen guardian has a known history of embezzlement or is an alcoholic or any other negative history, it is not likely that a court would appoint them since the point of the guardian role is to protect you and your assets.
As we’ve outlined above, the factors to consider when making a choice of guardian(s) can be overwhelming especially if there are multiple contenders and the potential for drama in the family as a result of the decision. At Michigan Gun Law, we understand this dynamic very well and can help guide you through the process of choosing a guardian, as well as drafting the documents to make it work. We will be there with you every step of the way. Contact us today to get started.