Do you have custody of your children and an amicable relationship with the other parent(s)? If so, you may not have considered making guardianship a priority because you assume that if something happened to you or one of the other parents, then custody would automatically go to the surviving parent. Establishing a legal guardianship plan will protect you from odd but possible circumstances. For example, if one parent passes before the other, the courts could deem the surviving parent as unfit or irresponsible. Other issues such as incapacitation or incarceration could also cause an issue.
One important thing to note is that your current decision about guardianship does not have to be permanent, and you can make amendments to it as needed. For example, you might list your sister as guardian; however, you may want to change that if your sister were to move to another state and you prefer that your children remain in the state you currently reside in due to family ties.
It is possible to attach a letter of instruction to guardianship paperwork. This is a letter that outlines how you want your children to be raised. Using the previous scenario, you could name your sister and include the clause about her remaining in the state. If she chooses to move, then you should have other people listed as well. Ensure you discuss your guardianship instructions with anyone you plan to list as an approved guardian. That will ensure that they are aware of and in agreement with your instructions.
Exclusions to Guardianship
Perhaps there are people who you know may try to obtain guardianship of your children that you do not approve of. The legal way to keep these individuals from obtaining guardianship is to list them as exclusions. State your reasons for the exclusion. For example, you could include that a person has a history of abuse and is irresponsible with money if you fear that your child might be abused or a relative might seek guardianship due to financial interests associated with your child.
A lot can happen over the years, and a parent who is currently stable could have issues in the future. Think of what would happen to your children if they were placed in foster care or maternal and paternal family members sought custody and had a bitter fight because neither you or the other parent could care for your child. This is why it is sensible to use a family lawyer, such as those at The Law Offices of Paul F. Moore II, as a resource to ensure that potential conflicts are minimized and backed by a strong, legal foundation.