When preparing your California Will, nominating guardians to raise your minor children can be difficult. Guardians are the individual or couple who will physically and emotionally take care of your children by clothing them, feeding them, educating them and raising them to be decent human beings.
1. If you’ve named a couple to take care of your children, what should happen if one of persons in the couple dies or if they divorce? Do you nominate one of them to serve alone as guardian or do you nominate someone else entirely new; how disruptive to your child would that be?
2. Is the person you’ve chosen young enough to take on the responsibility? While choosing your parents may make sense, they may be too old for the job or may die before your children are still minors. If you do choose individuals who are older than you, always name back up guardians.
3. Does the individual have values similar to your own and the traits necessary to raise your children? Some of those values include religious beliefs, education (private vs. public schools, religious vs. secular schools, out-of-state or California schools), patience and a sense of humor?
4. Is the proposed guardian financially secure, emotionally stable and physically well? Does he or she have a healthy lifestyle? Will he or she stay in California?
The California Probate Code addresses the topic of guardians in Code Sections 1400 et seq., 1500 et seq., and 2100 et seq.
The topic is much more nuanced than presented here. Call your estate planning attorney for help.