I am anxious and embarrassed that we have not made arrangements for our toddler in the unlikely event that both her father and I (a married couple) die while she is still a minor. I know few people who would be good candidates, and I also don't know what the etiquette is in terms of approaching someone as if they would be thrilled with what is, in part, a significant burden. We can leave a little bit of life insurance money, but if we are talking about raising a child for more than a decade, plenty of money will need to come from the new guardian's pocket.
Whom is it appropriate to ask, knowing that we will not be able to cover all costs to age 18?
Our child has -
Three living grandparents, none of whom I consider good candidates due to varying problems with health, advanced age, values, and competence
One aunt, ineligible because of very poor health
One uncle, possibly the best candidate listed so far, but single and not especially able to provide a home (lives with roommates, fairly low income)
Many great aunts and uncles, one pair of whom she knows fairly well. This couple, however, is already in their mid-late sixties and our daughter is not yet two.
Many first cousins, once removed (DH's and my first cousins)
Various friends of mine, some of whom would be decent candidates were it not for the fact that the "friend" group seems least appropriate to ask. The best candidate is one who has already expressed discomfort in this exact type of request from a much closer friend. Left are an unmarried male friend whom DD knows and likes (the best option I can think of among the rest, but would feel odd to ask), a financially unstable couple with mental health problems (not necessarily a disqualifier, but not ideal) who may or may not be interested and whom DD barely knows, a couple DD knows moderately, but who do not share my childrearing values, and another single male friend who would be a slightly less good candidate than the one I listed first.
I will tell you whom I would like to ask. I would like to ask my first cousin (my only first cousin) and his wife. I find that his wife is especially warm, as is their preteen son (truly a great kid). My cousin, himself, is also fine. DD does not know them extremely well, since they live out of state (as do about half of the other candidates, listed above), but she does know who they are, and they live very close to the great aunt I mentioned that she knows a little better. Ideally, all would take an interest in my DD. My cousin is very financially stable, with a home that could house an additional child. Their religious and political values are different from mine, but as you can tell based on my list of candidates, I cannot have everything.
The level of closeness between my cousin and I is only moderate. When we visit the area, we stay with his parents (aforementioned great aunt and uncle to DD) and he drops in to see us and vice versa. We send Christmas cards, but not birthday cards and never call each other. We have a pleasant relationship, but neither of us is a huge communicator.
Does it sound to you like it would be all right to ask my cousin? Based on my list, do you see a better candidate? What do people do when there is no obvious option?
Whom did you choose for your child?
I have chosen someone who is warm caring and able to keep DS on the same educational track hes been on for years (highly accelearated). Religious, political etc is not as important as understanding educational needs in my case.
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Seeking zen in 2014. Working on journaling and finding peace this year. Spending my free time taking J to swimteam
You can also name one person to do the paperwork, another to assume custody, etc. We defined 3 agents: one to dispose of the estate and get the immediate arrangements in order, one to assume custody, and another to administer the trust that provides ongoing support for the child. The last was a lawyer.
I do think that you should buy enough life insurance that the guardian will not have to support the child. The policy can be used to establish an interest-bearing trust administered by a professional, which is often preferable to providing a lump sum to the guardian because it's reliable and easier for them; it also protects the child from the guardian making well-intentioned mistakes with the money. You can determine the terms of the trust (how much distributed and when; reserve amount for college or upon adulthood; what the $ can be spent on, such as clothing and stipend for housing but not for private schooling or whatever your intentions are, etc)
Loving mama to Aden (8/5/2010) and DSD (15).