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  • Who gets the kids?

    In the event of your untimely demise, who would you choose to raise your kids (in relation to you)?

    We need to get our will in order, but are suffering from analysis paralysis trying to figure out who would be the best person for the job. Obviously there are many factors to consider.
    56
    Grandma/Grandpa
    7.14%
    4
    Mom/Dad
    16.07%
    9
    Brother/Sister
    57.14%
    32
    Aunt/Uncle
    8.93%
    5
    Cousin
    3.57%
    2
    Friend
    7.14%
    4
    Other
    0%
    0

  • #2
    I didn't vote because the way you are connected to a person is one of the least important considerations. Capability, location/disruption for your child, intimacy with your children, life philosophy all rate far higher.

    Comment


    • #3
      I voted aunt/uncle because that's who it is for us, but like Shant said this is much more about the individual rather than the particular familial relationship.

      In our case, we were thinking shared values and general sanity (sadly, we have closer relatives who I would not let babysit my children)

      Also, just because this is the WCI, this is the person in our family who would be least in need of our life insurance proceeds

      Comment


      • #4
        •Ours was easy, the aunt lived with us and we never needed a babysitter or nanny. Two week trip with school in session? No problem.
        •However, she was not capable of handling the money. Brother was the trustee. The aunt’s needs were included in the trust.
        •We did appoint brother as alternate guardian. We specifically asked him to be involved in things like mentoring and college/career decisions. The power of the purse was woven into the plan.

        I whole heartedly agree that suitability AND the willingness are the most important factors. Age can come into play there.

        Guardianship and trustee should separate decisions.

        Comment


        • #5
          I love my niece and nephew but live across the country from them. I have no problem with my sister choosing her friend in the area to raise the kids if anything happens. It will be better psychologically than having to uproot them, make them leave their friends, and move across the country. I will still of course be there for them, just from afar

          Comment


          • #6
            I hadn't really thought that much about uprooting my child, maybe since she's only a toddler without much to uproot from.

            I suppose that as life goes on, the person we choose may change.

            Comment


            • #7
              When the kids were young, we provided a short list that included aunts/uncles, cousins, and friends, recognizing that the most suitable guardian might shift over time. Our parents were already deemed to be too old. We separated the guardianship from the trustee, too.

              Comment


              • #8
                Who is willing to raise your children? Keep in mind this is a huge thing to ask, don’t assume that a family member will want to do so, even if they are suitable.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Anne View Post
                  Who is willing to raise your children? Keep in mind this is a huge thing to ask, don’t assume that a family member will want to do so, even if they are suitable.
                  That's a good question, we haven't had the conversation with many family members. I think most would be willing, some more than others, but who knows until we actually ask.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Also, generally what you put in your Will is something the judge in the guardianship proceeding will consider heavily, but isn't bound by. The judge's job is to evaluate all the evidence put in front of her or him and then make the best decision. Some people who feel strongly about this, especially single or divorced parents, will even put documents together to inform the judge. Some people will state somewhere who they don't want to get the kids. Every family dynamic is different.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Tough questions. Depends a lot on the family. In our case both being the oldest our parents are relatively young and would be the best option. Our sibs are just getting started in life. Pokey millennials :P 10 years from now it would likely be a different answer.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Gavin West View Post
                        Also, generally what you put in your Will is something the judge in the guardianship proceeding will consider heavily, but isn't bound by. The judge's job is to evaluate all the evidence put in front of her or him and then make the best decision. Some people who feel strongly about this, especially single or divorced parents, will even put documents together to inform the judge. Some people will state somewhere who they don't want to get the kids. Every family dynamic is different.
                        Based on your experience working with trust and estate documents in court after your client(s) passed away, would you want a judge to have much if any discretion at all in this sort of matter?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          We’ve nominated primary, secondary, and tertiary guardians for the kids. Ran the nominations by all of the potential new parents / guardians for the kids and separated the guardianship role from the trustee role.

                          It’s important to look at who would love your kids like their own and impart the values you want for your kids. Who is young enough, energetic and financially stable enough not just to change diapers today but to be there when your youngest graduates high school and college, etc.

                          If you bifurcate the guardian and trustee roles, you have to make sure that the trustee doesn’t rob the kids and the guardian blind, but also doesn’t get paid a pittance for challenging work over two decades or more that is subject to complaints and second guessing. You want someone who scrutinizes expenses and doesn’t draw the corpus down to nothing, but also makes sure the kids are taken care of and the guardian has the resources to take ample care of the kids.

                          In fairness, it’s unlikely that both you and your spouse will die in the same zeppelin accident as your primary and secondary nominated guardian. People can decline to serve as trustee or guardian, but you probably won’t get the most unlikely combination of a bank trust department as guardian and your second cousin twice removed as trustee.

                          Still better to have a chat with folks, let them know they might be on the hook if the worst comes to pass, and moving on and naming someone else if that take more than 10 or 15 seconds to say “Yes” on the phone.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            “If you bifurcate the guardian and trustee roles, you have to make sure that the trustee doesn’t rob the kids and the guardian blind, but also doesn’t get paid a pittance for challenging work over two decades or more that is subject to complaints and second guessing. You want someone who scrutinizes expenses and doesn’t draw the corpus down to nothing, but also makes sure the kids are taken care of and the guardian has the resources to take ample care of the kids.”

                            Raising kids is difficult. We wanted to shoot for guardians and trustees that would go “all in”. Guardian wouldn’t use the kids for any “upgrades”.
                            Trustee the same. Concurrently the funds wouldn’t add any financial burden to either as much as possible. Character probably the most important attribute.
                            Utopian dream, if the money ran short, the trustee would have actually stepped up. Guardian as well.
                            The legal terms are different, basically adoption.
                            That is difficult to “make sure”.
                            My mother had two “brothers” that were cousins whose parents had passed. No paperwork or trust.
                            Just family. That’s the target.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Hank View Post
                              We’ve nominated primary, secondary, and tertiary guardians for the kids. Ran the nominations by all of the potential new parents / guardians for the kids and separated the guardianship role from the trustee role.

                              It’s important to look at who would love your kids like their own and impart the values you want for your kids. Who is young enough, energetic and financially stable enough not just to change diapers today but to be there when your youngest graduates high school and college, etc.

                              If you bifurcate the guardian and trustee roles, you have to make sure that the trustee doesn’t rob the kids and the guardian blind, but also doesn’t get paid a pittance for challenging work over two decades or more that is subject to complaints and second guessing. You want someone who scrutinizes expenses and doesn’t draw the corpus down to nothing, but also makes sure the kids are taken care of and the guardian has the resources to take ample care of the kids.

                              In fairness, it’s unlikely that both you and your spouse will die in the same zeppelin accident as your primary and secondary nominated guardian. People can decline to serve as trustee or guardian, but you probably won’t get the most unlikely combination of a bank trust department as guardian and your second cousin twice removed as trustee.

                              Still better to have a chat with folks, let them know they might be on the hook if the worst comes to pass, and moving on and naming someone else if that take more than 10 or 15 seconds to say “Yes” on the phone.
                              I agree with all of this. One of the reasons that we did not choose our parents is that we deemed them already to be too old when the kids were young. We chose potential guardians that were about the same age (our age, +/- 3 years) and who had similar values. There was my sister, wife's brother, and two close family friends. Of course, we asked them for their permission, and all willingly accepted the potential responsibility.

                              For trustees, in retrospect, it would have been better to pay 1% or whatever to a professional trustee than to let either of the grandfathers manage the long term finances. One literally went broke himself!

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