Naming Guardians For Your Children as a Single Parent
At LayRoots we like to host a number of Guardian Nomination Workshops. We help parents choose and document legal guardians for their children…just in case something happens to them. One of the most common questions we get is what should a parent do if he or she has separated from his/her co-parent. Put another way, what do you do if each parent wants different guardians for the children?
So what if you would choose a different guardian for your child? What if you don’t want your ex to get the kids if something happens to you? Check out the video to learn about some options available to you.
Colin Ley is a Seattle estate planning attorney. He is also the co-founder of LayRoots along with his wife, Shreya Ley.
Naming Guardians as a Single Parent Video Transcript
Hey, Colin Ley with LayRoots. I am here to talk to you about naming guardians for minor children for single parents. A question I get quite often is from somebody in this scenario where they had children with a co-parent and then for whatever reason that relationship ended, so both parents are still around they just are no longer in that relationship together. The parent is wondering, “What is going to happen to my minor children if something happens to me?”
The answer generally is that if parent one dies while there are still minor children, parent two has the guardianship rights to their kids, unless they’ve lost them, unless they’ve lost parenting rights for whatever reason, but generally the second parent is going to have the right to look after their kids. It doesn’t matter if you have named guardians for them, they still have that right.
Should you bother doing anything if that’s the case? I think you should. Guardian nominations can be pretty straight forward to do. We do them in a lot of workshop for parents. I find one of the issues when there’s a single parent asking about this is they’re concerned about the scenario where something happens to parent one, parent one dies and then parent two takes over as full time guardian and then something happens to parent two. Their worry is that if parent two dies a little bit later down the road with minor children still, then they are going to pick the person who is looking after those kids. Parent one is usually concerned about who parent two will pick. Maybe this is an old sister in law, mother in law, something like that, I don’t know.
What could you do in that scenario if that’s something you’re worried about? While you are still alive and healthy you could write a confidential letter of exclusion. This would basically be a letter, sealed letter that says, “Hey, if something happens to me and parent two, I don’t want this person or that person raising my children for reasons A, B and C.” That’s something you could do because that could give you a voice to whatever judge is doing the judge thing, the court thing of appointing the guardian for your minor children.
That’s something. Named guardians, confidential letter of exclusion lets you bad mouth, trash talk, whatever, state your case for why you wouldn’t want a certain person from this other side of the family, or whoever it may be, raising your kids. Yeah, that’s all I’ve got for you today. If you have any questions feel free to reach out and thanks for watching. Take care.