Naming multiple guardians for children can create unexpected problems.Yes, but you should be careful when doing so. It’s important to establish guardianship for your kids with a trusted relative or friend just in case something happens to you and you are unable to raise your children. While you should name at least one preferred individual and one backup individual, naming several people as guardians can cause problems after your passing.

Make Sure Your Will Is Clear About Who Should Care for Minor Children

As always, the language you use in your estate planning documents matters. If you don’t choose your words precisely, family members could contest guardianship in court and leave a judge to make the final decision on who will raise your children.

Consider these potential problems when entrusting your children to:

  • Married couples. It may seem straightforward to name “Mr. and Mrs. Jones” as guardians, but what happens if the Joneses divorce? Would you want the children to stay with Mr. Jones, Mrs. Jones, or someone else altogether? If Mrs. Jones remarries, should she retain custody? A letter of explanation as to why you selected your chosen guardian can ensure your kids are in the right home.
  • Randomized alternates. Naming alternates ensures that your children will live with at least one of your trusted relatives if your first choice of guardians unable to serve. While listing alternates, be sure to rank them in order and include language such as “listed in order of preference” to be absolutely clear about your wishes.
  • Different guardians for each child. In general, it’s a good idea to keep siblings in the same household unless there is a good reason to separate them. On the other hand, you may choose two separate guardians for one child, but co-guardians might end up in court if they disagree on major decisions for the child’s life. If you want two different people to have equal rights to raise your child, you should spell out each one’s responsibilities, whose resources will pay for the child’s care, and how any disputes between the guardians should be settled.

Whether you need help creating your estate plan or establishing guardianship in court, our New York estate litigation lawyers can guide you through the process. Contact Landskind & Ricaforte Law Group today through our online form to learn how we can be of assistance.