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Telling Family About Guardianship Decisions

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hoping I can get some advice from people who have BTDT. We had our first baby six months ago, and as yet have not put together a will. I think we definitely need to, primarily to establish who will become the legal guardian of our son if anything should happen to us both. It hasn't come to the top of our priority list for all the usual reasons: we're young and reasonably healthy, we don't know where to start, we're busy, etc. We have briefly discussed ideas for guardianship, but haven't come to any conclusions.


Obviously, we would have to pick guardians before breaking the news to the people we didn't pick. Most likely we will name one set of parents (his or mine) as guardians at this point, since none of our siblings really seem to possess the right combination of financial stability and willingness to parent. But how do we let the other set of parents know we didn't pick them? Do we even need to tell them, given the relatively small chance of it ever mattering? We really have drama-free IL relationships - our moms like each other, we like each other's parents, nobody fights over who gets us for Christmas, etc., so I'd like to think it wouldn't be an issue. But I can see how saying, "We've decided x will be the best parents for Baby Bird if we can't be," could cause hurt feelings. Has anyone successfully navigated these waters before?

post #2 of 13

Our situation is different, we are older parents so having the grandparents as guardians is not an option.  It was really difficult for us because there was no good choice so we put it off for a few years.  (What ended up pushing us was the fact that if we had no one designated, my husband's siblings could fight for guardianship - something we knew we did not want.  I do not think a court would ever give them the children, but you never know.) 


Originally we chose my sister/BIL to be the guardians and my brother to handle the finances.  We had reservations about the guardianship but felt it was the best choice at the time. (We felt very comfortable having my brother handle the finances.)  We discussed it with my brother and sister. 


Since then, we've decided my sister/BIL would not be best for guardianship and we had the guardian changed to my brother/SIL.  We told my brother about the change (and my mother who is the only living grandparent) but never told my sister. It would really upset her and I didn't think it was worth all the drama.  I have a letter to my sister with the estate paperwork explaining, sort of, why we changed the guardianship so my brother does not need to be the one to tell her.


When are children are older - high school aged - and if my sister's life changes a bit, we would consider changing it again. 



post #3 of 13

One way we dealt with the financial piece is that we have life insurance and our kids are the beneficiaries. So, if anything happened, there would be money and that made it easier to choose my sister and her partner. We asked her, but didn't tell everyone else. Just seemed like why? and no one has asked. I like the letter idea; we should probably do that as well. I imagine there would be some wondering and hurt feelings (dang- I hate talking or writing about this stuff!) 

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

We do have life insurance, and our son is the beneficiary if we both die. It's substantial, but not enough to set him for life or anything. At this point, I just don't see any of our siblings being ready to take on a child. Only two are married (and I would want our son to have two parents), one just barely married, young, with a ton of school ahead of him, and the other in graduate school with 3 kids under 3. So I guess while the financial aspect is part of the reason we'd choose our parents, it isn't necessarily the biggest obstacle. As our parents get older and our siblings get more settled, I could see changing our decision.


I am leaning more toward thinking the only people who really need to know about our decision is whoever the guardians are. I guess I'm just such an open book it's hard for me to not feel like I'm being a little dishonest by not telling the other side. Maybe a letter for just in case would be useful, too. And it's probably silly to create potential drama over something that just seems so unlikely to ever matter.

post #5 of 13

Our situation is different.  We didn't name guardians until Dylan was born.  At that time, we picked our first born, Joy, to be his guardian.  In part, because she was the oldest.  Fast forward 15 years later.  Now our 3rd, Angela, is Dylan's guardian if anything happens to us.  Dylan no longer needs an active parent so switching from Joy who is in full parenting mode and raising 3 little ones of her own to Angela who is single makes sense.  We discussed it with all three girls each time and the decision was unanimous each time

post #6 of 13

My husband and I discussed who we felt most comfortable as guardians to our sons if something were to happen to both of us. After we decided, we had talk with my parents (who we chose as guardians) to make sure they would be willing to raise them. We are not planning to talk to any of our other family members about our decision - our sons are ours and we feel we've made the best decision we could. I think that talking to my brother, SIL or ILs about our decision could just lead to hurt feelings and that's not our intention. It just seems like the potential for unnecessary drama. :/


I like the idea of writing a letter, though, to include as part of your will/estate--just in case.

post #7 of 13

Aside from clearing it with the potential guardians, I would not discusss it with the "also rans."  Like others said, I don't see any reason to tell the "did not pick you" people about your legal arrangements.  Including a letter to anyone who might be upset/hurt is a good idea if you are concerned about how they will react and how that may impact your child. 

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

So my dad was over last night for dinner, and he happened to bring up the fact that he and my mom never designated guardians for us when we were minors. He said he was discussing it once with his dad and said that he figured he would want someone from his family to raise us, and my mom would want someone from her family, and it probably wouldn't ever matter because they probably wouldn't both die, so he figured they'd just let everyone fight it out after they were dead and avoid conflict in the meantime. His dad looked at him and said, "Son, I think that's the stupidest thing you've ever said." lol.gif Which my dad said is pretty impressive, considering all the things he's said over the years!

post #9 of 13
Originally Posted by Caneel View Post

Aside from clearing it with the potential guardians, I would not discusss it with the "also rans."  Like others said, I don't see any reason to tell the "did not pick you" people about your legal arrangements.  Including a letter to anyone who might be upset/hurt is a good idea if you are concerned about how they will react and how that may impact your child. 


Yea. I had the "hey we didnt' pick you because we hate your husband, even though you're the best choice out there" convo with a family member.  It did not go well at all.  

post #10 of 13
Interesting question. We have soon to be 4 kids, and feel like my mom (70's) is too old, and dh's mom and stepdad are just too self centered (they are great people, just not parent material. Dh was an only child very much by MIL's choosing, and SD has no kids). I have a sister, but as much as I love her, I don't want her to raise my kids. She and her dh are born-again christian conservatives and their world view is frightening to me.

We decided that my long time best friend should be guardian, he has always been the executor of our will. My kids may not be with him all the time, they may go back and forth between my family (mom and sister and FAM live together) and dh's family, and my best friend. And I am fine with that, because all parties love the kids very much. But I need to know that my kids bests interests are being looked out for by someone who knows us and why we raise the kids the way we do. So that seemed the best compromise.

I LOVE the letters in the estate info thing. I will be doing that.
post #11 of 13

I was thinking about this the other day! We picked my husband's brother and his wife, because they were married and about to have a family and were in the best position to take on another child. I was cool with this until they had their baby and they put the baby on a nursing schedule. I was still nursing my own son when we went to the visit them. Her daughter would scream for milk and I would let down over and over as they walked the baby up and down the hallway as she cried until it was "time to eat". I was so traumatized by that that I have decided I would like my sister to raise my son if we were gone. She isn't married and is in law school. But she would do whatever she had to do to love and spoil my son and doesn't have any of these ridiculous notions my SIL seems to have.


When I change this, I'll talk to my sister. It is unlikely we will die and it will come up. If we do, well, it's in the will, so they'll just figure it out.

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

It's very important to us that our child(ren) be raised in our religion, which eliminates many of our friends from the running. Additionally, large families are pretty typical in our church, and I have a hard time with the idea of asking someone who's raising 4 or 5 kids of their own to add to their load. Our parents are all in their 50s (dh's mom is actually not quite 50), so they're a much better choice for us at this point.


My dad agreed with me that he'd like to think that our two families wouldn't get into fist fights over custody of our son, but then said half-jokingly that maybe my mom would. I guess I could see hurt feelings, but it would absolutely stun me to see our parents be outwardly uncivil about whatever decision we made. Still and all, this thread is convincing me that the right thing to do is just tell whoever we pick (or ask them first, I guess!), and leave it at that. Probably no one is losing sleep at night wondering if they've been picked as our child's guardian.

post #13 of 13

We did our will recently. We picked my sister and her husband to be guardians.


My husband's sister would have been fine too, but we put her as a back-up, in the case that my sister is not around.  I casually mentioned it to my husband's sister, and worded it as "you would be one of our choices of guardians for our kids".


For many reasons, I felt that my sister would be a better choice. I was actually quite surprised that my husband thought my sister was a better choice (and secretly hoping he would say that). I think my sister-in-law is an amazing mom, but my sister is so much more like me...I think it would be an easier transition.

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