I often write about how to choose guardians for your children, and how to talk to the prospective guardians, but what do you do if your friends or siblings ask you to be named guardian of their children? First, thank them for thinking of you and them let them know that you want to give such a serious matter some thought before answering.
Here are some things to consider or ask your friends before saying “yes.”
- What is your lifestyle like? Do you travel a lot for work? Enjoy your freedom? Or are you ready to settle down if necessary to raise children?
- Do you drink heavily or do drugs? Be honest with yourself here. You don’t need to explain why you are saying no to your friends, but you should decline to be named a guardian if substances are an issue in your life.
- Do the children have any special needs or medical issues that you would need to manage? Are you willing to be trained in handling those?
- What financial arrangements have been made for the support of the children after their parents pass away? If the parents seem to be relying on you to provide financial support for the children, you may want to encourage them to purchase life insurance before agreeing to take on that responsibility.
- Do you already have children? Would the total number of children and the ages of the children (and their personalities) mesh well if they suddenly had to move in with you?
- If they are asking you and your spouse to both be guardians, is your marriage in tact and likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future? If you are thinking about divorce, let you friend know that they may just want to name one of you.
- Will the parents be preparing a document with all of the children’s medical and schooling information, as well as any allergy or injury information a potential guardian will need to know? This should be something they update on a regular basis so you will always have the most accurate information.
- Are they naming alternates? If at some point in the future you change your mind, is there someone else named who could fill that role if needed?
There are sensitive issues to deal with here, but since it involves the possibility of raising someone else’s children it’s important to be open and honest when talking to your friends or siblings. You should always feel free to say no if you think you would not be a suitable guardian.