If you are a parent, your estate plan should include information about who should care for your child if you are no longer able to do so. Making this decision can be difficult, but taking the proper legal steps will give you peace of mind.

Use this process to choose and legally name a guardian for your minor children in Wisconsin.

Selecting a guardian

Although you may immediately consider your relatives when it comes to choosing a guardian, the person does not necessarily need to be a biological relation. More importantly, you should think about these factors for each individual you consider:

  • Does my child already know and feel comfortable with this person?
  • Does he or she share my personal values and/or religious beliefs?
  • Does the person live in the area?
  • Is the person young enough to care for my child until he or she is an adult?
  • Is he or she both willing and emotionally prepared to take on this responsibility if necessary?

If your child is a teen, he or she may have the emotional maturity to weigh in on this decision.

Establishing legal guardianship

When you have decided on a guardian and that person has agreed to care for your children if you die unexpectedly, you must name that person in your will so the court can honor your wishes. In the absence of a named guardian, the judge will decide who should be your child’s guardian.

Make sure you have significant assets or life insurance to provide for the child’s care. You can name a guardian of the estate to manage these funds on behalf of your minor child, which may or may not be the child’s legal guardian.

Many parents put off the conversation about naming a legal guardian. Although the chances this person will actually have to care for your children are slim, taking these legal steps ensures they will be with someone you trust if you are no longer able to raise them.