Appointing a guardian for your children is an important decision every Florida parent should make thoughtfully. The person or persons you name as guardian will fill a critical role in your child’s life should you become incapacitated or pass away.
Because this party will be able to make legal and financial decisions on your child’s behalf, it is important that you consider some important factors before naming someone.
What You Should Consider
When considering who to name, think about someone who:
Already knows your child
Loves and cares for your child
Is prepared to fill the role
Has a suitable living situation
Is healthy and mentally fit to care for a child
Has similar religious or spiritual beliefs to you
What the Courts Consider
If you do not name someone as your child’s guardian and the need for one arises, the courts will designate someone. When making the decision, the court will consider its own set of criteria. As noted in Florida statutes, courts typically show preference for someone who:
Is legally qualified to serve as a guardian
Is related to the child
Is fit to manage financial resources
Has professional or educational background to provide the relevant services
The courts will also consider the preferences of a child, if that child is at least 14 years old.
These same qualifications can certainly play a role in your decision when naming a guardian, too. But because the courts won’t necessarily know the same personal details you know about potential guardians, they could wind up naming someone you would not have chosen. It might even be someone you would not want.
To ensure that the courts know and can fulfill your wishes as a parent, you should make guardianship part of your estate plan. Doing so provides valuable information about your preferences, which can ease a lot of stress and anxiety among your loved ones.