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Dictating guardianship: Part of your will

If you have a child who you need to establish guardianship rights for in your will, it's important to do so correctly through the courts. Guardianship can help in a number of ways, including protecting your children if you or your child's other parent passes away.

To set up guardianship, you need to spell out who you want to have as a guardian in your will. You should choose someone to be the guardian of your children only if he or she is able to raise your children if you are incapacitated or pass away. You should always name more than one potential guardian, so that your children will always have a guardian, even if one can't be there for them in the future. It's legal to choose different guardians for each child if needed.

If you'd like, you can leave information on why you chose each guardian. For example, you may say that it was your child's preference to stay with his or her aunt or uncle, a friend of the family or other party. You should also state that you believe this person can fulfill your child's needs and why. You should list their relationship and give any other information that could be helpful to a court. Remember, a judge could potentially overrule your will's guardianship preference if he or she feels the guardian will not be a good fit for your child.

In your will and estate plan, it's vital to make arrangements for your children. Doing so now saves trouble and makes sure you dictate who you want to take care of your kids.

Source: FindLaw, "How to Establish Guardianship of a Child FAQs," accessed May 10, 2018

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