As part of your estate plan, you have the option of choosing someone to serve as your legal guardian if you ever become incapacitated and unable to make decisions about your health, finances and other important matters. Planning for guardianship ahead of time can be a smart decision if you are older, have a disability that is likely to grow worse over time, or both.
Of course, you don’t want to choose the wrong person to be your guardian. If you ever need one, your guardian will have considerable power over your life. You need someone with the judgment, commitment and morality to use this power to serve your best interests when you are vulnerable and unable to protect yourself.
Ask yourself these questions
Before designating someone to be your guardian, consider questions like these:
- Does the person have a reputation for honesty and integrity?
- Has the person managed their personal affairs in a way you approve of?
- Does the person have professional and business experience that suggests they can handle your affairs properly?
- Does the candidate have time to devote to your needs?
- How is the candidate’s current health?
- Does the candidate have a criminal record?
You get the idea. Your potential future guardian needs to be someone you can trust to take care of your finances, work with your doctors and keep you as safe, healthy and comfortable as possible. While the most common choice of guardian is a spouse, child or other family member, not everybody has a relative who would make an appropriate candidate. Therefore, a conversation with your estate planning attorney can help you decide how to proceed.