Long before we had kids, we used to plan how we would raise them. We’d set and plan their whole little lives from start to finish, we had a lot of time back then to daydream – lol. One thing we focused on when hypothetically planning, is where our children would end up if we died. If there is one thing I know for certain, I do not want to outlive my kids. It is very easy to find somewhere for pretend kids to go! But when those tiny little humans are staring you in the face, your thought process changes drastically.
Over the last seventeen years, we have been asked on three different occasions to take care of children if their parents died. Let me say first, that this is a great honor, to be asked to step up in the place of a parent. It is not something that should be taken lightly. I must also say this, it is not something that can be fully understood by someone unless they are a parent. Finding the right people to care for your child after you are gone is not easy, it takes careful prayer and a clear thought process.
Shortly after the girls were born, we began talking, on a serious level this time, about what would happen with them after our passing. The Lord has blessed and allowed us to carry an insurance policy that would be enough to provide for them. Not millions, but enough to where they could maintain a lifestyle they are being raised to be custom to. We mulled over our family and our friends. This was sort of depressing, all of our family that would be able to take them, already have children, multiple children. Not only that, but they are our age or older, so that could present a physical strain on them as well. Add to that the financial stress raising a double whammy of twins can cause and you have seriously just put someone on Prozac! After going through the list of everyone we know, we came to a decision. After much prayer and discussion with the couple, they agreed to take the girls if the need ever arose.
Losing one parent is devastating enough, but to lose both parents is just horribly tragic. The emotional stress and heartbreak that a child goes through when losing their mom and dad is just too much to take. Therefore, we must make sure that our children, after they experience this loss, are cared for in the best ways possible. There are some things you need to know about the legal side of selecting a person and place for your children in the event of your death, here they are.
Legally, Godparents and Guardians are NOT the same thing.
When we started this process, I was unaware of this fact. The law looks at them very differently. A Godparent is a person (in certain faiths) that sponsors a child’s baptism and then takes on a “parental” role in their Spiritual development. They are not required to go beyond the realm of Spiritual needs and growth.
A Guardian, on the other hand, takes on the full parental responsibility of a child, both physically and Spiritually. They take the child into their home, their lives and care for them (Lord Willing) as one of their own.
A Godparent can be a guardian to your child, and visa-versa, like our situation. In our denomination, we do not practice infant / child baptism prior to Salvation, so the sponsoring aspect of a Godparent is not necessary. Though they will be our children’s guardians, they are also their Godparents, in the respect that we do attend church together and they are involved in the Spiritual growth of our kids. The terms you choose to use in your family is completely up to you. You can absolutely call your guardians, Godparents.
You Cannot Just Give Your Kids To People
If it were only that simple. It sounds great to say, “Hey, will you take my kids if I die?” And as I said before, it is a great privilege to be asked, but without making it legal, it’s just talk. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone say that their friend or family member was going to just “give” them their baby or children. It would be great, if it worked that way, but the truth is (and many people don’t want to believe it) it just does not work that way. If someone wants to give their kids to someone else, there needs to be legal guardianship made or a proper adoption.
In the situation of parental death, children MUST be willed to a guardian. You must have a written will, stating where you want them placed. A will, is a legal document, witnessed by others that states how your belongings, estate and possessions are to be divided up after your passing. It also includes, where your children will go and to whom they will go to. The best place to start is with an attorney. They will be able to walk you through the complete process from beginning to end. Guardianship laws may differ from state to state, so working with an attorney will ensure that you are making a 100% legal and binding document. If you are serious about leaving your children to someone, you MUST have a written Will.
Why is a will so important? Without a written, legal will, your words after your death, simply become here-say. They have no merit to stand on their own, because you (the person who said them) are not there to back up the statements. Without a will, the guardian you have arranged for your children, does not have a leg to stand on. Children who have no legal guardian in place at the time of their parent’s death are placed in the care of the judicial system (we all know how that goes) and the courts decide the best legal guardian for them. They may or may not choose the person you have thoughtfully picked, prayed over, and discussed your arrangements with.
In a will, the person who is taking responsibility of your children is called the Testamentary Guardian. This basically means that they are taking responsibility of the child’s person (legal terms) and their wellbeing. If at the time of your death, the person you have named Testamentary Guardian cannot meet the responsibilities of the job, the court system will appoint another guardian over your child.
Thomas has prepaid legal through his work, which also helped with our adoption. We are calling them this week to begin the steps needed to make our children’s Godparents their legal guardians, should anything happen to us. I will post about this as it moves forward.
Keep Your Will Up-To-Date Because It Can Be Voided.
This is another little fact I was unaware of. A will can be voided. Any major changes in your life, such as marriage or the birth of a child, voids your will. Strangely enough, divorce does not make it void (at least not in my state), go figure. Addresses and contact information should be kept up to date as well as your Guardians’ information. Should you need to, you can alter your Will and update it with a new guardian’s information. Your attorney can assist you in this process also. Check your state’s laws on Will and what makes them void, as it may differ from state to state.
Should you leave this world unexpectedly, there will be much confusion. The last thing a child needs, when going through losing a parent is not knowing where they are going or who they are going to be with. When you have chosen a guardian for your precious babies, involve them in their lives as much as possible. This will definitely make the transition from one home to another easier for your child to deal with. No one wants to just feel like they have been thrown into a stranger’s house and not wanted.
Things To Consider When Selecting A Guardian For Your Kids
First things first, seek God’s will in this matter. Bathe the question of who will be the best guardian for your child or children in prayer. God, who gave you those babies to care for and raise, will certainly guide you to the right person for the job, should you leave this world.
Your Personal Convictions: Anything that is important to you in raising your child, should be equally important in the lives of the people who will be taking on that responsibility after you. Maintaining and encouraging the values that you have instilled (or tried to), while on this earth, is key in the growth and development of your children. If you have raised them to be upright and love the Lord, you are not going to want them to be with someone who opposes those views.
The Age and Health of The Guardians: I hate to say it, but it’s true, the older we get, the slower we get and the less we can handle. Whomever takes charge of your children is going to need to be able to keep up with them, both mentally and physically. Someone who is great with children, especially in our case, if they are much older will have a hard time managing a double drop of crazy toddlers. Our children’s guardians are in their 20’s, almost half our ages, they are both in great health and should have no trouble keeping up with our littles.
Financial Status: No, money is not everything and none of us have as much as we’d like. I don’t suggest doing a credit check on your choice, but you will want to make sure that in the event there is no insurance money, or means to help provide for your children, that they will not put a great financial strain on someone. Also, if you do happen to have insurance money, you will want to be sure that it will be used to the best benefit for your child and not squandered away on some wasted want.
Marital Stability: A child thrives best on the presence of a mother and father. If neither of you are here, they are going to need to be with people who can show them and be the best examples of a healthy marriage possible. The couple that we chose for our children, were not married at the time. In fact, yesterday, they celebrated their one-week anniversary. When we approached them about caring for the girls, it was explained that it would all be made legal, after they were married, not before. We did this for two reasons: 1) Our girls need to be present with a male and female role in their lives, that love and care for each other and can raise them in a healthy married environment. 2) Things change – we wanted to make sure that after they were married, this was still a responsibility they were willing to take – and it is, praise the Lord!
No parent wants to think about leaving their babies, but the fact of the matter is, we all have an appointment with the Lord (Hebrews 9:27), and none of us know when that is. The tiny lives that were entrusted to us, are God’s heritage and he cares for them deeply. Just as planning for their high school and college careers it is most important that we plan for their future, in the even that we are not sharing it with them. I hope that you already have a guardian in place for your children and that you are not just leaving it to chance. If you don’t, please prayerfully seek God’s will in this matter and give your children some security that they will not just be left here all alone.
Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, just a simple housewife and mother. The information listed in this post should not be taken or considered as expert legal advice. Should you need expert legal advice, I encourage you to speak to an actual attorney on all your legal matters. The legal information listed in this article was found at GeorgiaLegalAid.org
Saturday :|: November 18, 2017 :|: Posted In (MOM)ents