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If you have children, you need to name a guardian for them

Many people think of estate planning as something that you do when you approach retirement age. However, putting it off that long could endanger the people that depend on you the most. It's a common estate planning mistake. You should commit yourself to estate planning if you have children because their future security could depend on what you put into your last will.

Specifically, you need to take steps to name an appropriate guardian for your children in case you die. Failing to do so could mean that they live with unsavory family members or even wind up sent into foster care if something unexpected happens to you.

Plan for the unexpected for the protection of your loved ones

Maybe you're married, and you simply assumed that if something happens to you, your spouse will take over all necessary parental duties. However, what if you and your spouse die simultaneously in an accident? What if years later, your spouse winds up in a coma and unable to care for your children who are still minors?

It is quite literally impossible to predict how your life and lives of your children and your spouse will unfold. Instead of just assuming things will go well, plan for the worst case scenario, which is your children being left without biological parents. In that situation, you need to think of who will have the ability to care for your children until they reach adulthood and continue to support them emotionally as adults.

The right guardian isn't always an obvious choice

Choosing a guardian for your children means carefully considering your network of friends and family. It also means thinking about the needs of your children and who will do the best job of meeting those needs. The age of your children and the guardian are also a factor. You need someone young enough to offer decades of support without being too young to be stable.

Someone who seems to have their life together could make an obvious choice. However, a person dedicated to their own career or education may not have adequate time for your children. Family members who have attained financial security may not be able to provide the emotional and social support your children will need after a sudden loss.

Finally, someone you think could be perfectly suited for the role could actually tell you they have no interest in that level of responsibility. You should talk with both your children if they are old enough and the person or people you intend to name as guardian. That way, everyone is aware of what you plan, and you can ensure that there are no complications or concerns that would make the person you choose as guardian a bad selection.

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