As an Indiana parent who wants the best for your children, you no doubt often think ahead to their future. Like many parents, you might also consider who would take care of your kids if both their parents were to die or become incapacitated. As part of the estate planning process, you can designate a guardian. Choosing someone to fulfill this role is a solemn process.
In addition to asking a person you trust to raise your children if something happens to you, you might also consider designating a conservator, which, essentially, is a guardian of property. This person would typically manage all finances that are relevant to your children’s care.
Is it required that a guardian and guardian of property be the same person?
You might know someone who is great with your kids — someone you trust to spend time with them if you’re not around. This person might be wonderful with kids but terrible with money management. If so, you would not want him or her to take on both a guardianship and conservatorship for your children.
The good news is that the guardian you choose doesn’t have to be the same person as the conservator you choose. Consider all aspects of both roles and choose someone for each who is the best fit.
How to determine if someone is a good fit for guardianship
Perhaps you have an elderly aunt whom your children love dearly. She is wonderful with kids, and you trust her to babysit for you at any time. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your aunt would be a good choice as a guardian in your estate plan. If she is getting on in years, and especially if her health isn’t the best, your kids could wind up in a similar position if the person you chose as their guardian were to pass away.
When designating a guardian to take care of your children, choose someone that’s a good fit. It’s best if the person is in good health, can afford to raise children (even if you have monies set aside) and is capable of being active in their lives for many years to come. Most parents also choose someone who has a similar value and belief system as they do, to ensure they will raise their children in the same manner that they themselves would have done.
Having a Plan B is always a good idea for estate planning
The person you choose as a guardian or conservator for your children might die before you or become incapacitated and unable to fulfill the role. To avoid the complications that would arise if this were to be the case, you can designate a second guardian who is willing to step in if something happens to the primary person listed in your estate plan.
The Indiana estate planning process enables you to customize your plan to fit your family’s needs and align with your wishes. Once you have signed documents regarding guardianship or conservatorship, you’ll want to periodically review your plan to check if any changes or updates are necessary.