Guardian Panel: When you can't decide on one guardian
From time to time, I get a client who has too tough of a time deciding on who the right guardian for their kids will be. In some scenarios, the best solution for that is a Guardian Panel. A Guardian Panel is a group of people who are named to make a decision together about who the guardian should be and/or where the children should live, at the time that the parents are unable to care for the children any longer. Anyone can use a Guardian Panel in their estate plan, but there are a few specific situations in which it especially makes sense.
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Here are a few of the scenarios in which a Guardian Panel makes a lot of sense:
1. You recently moved to your location and haven’t built your community yet.
Many of my clients have moved to Portland recently, and haven’t build their community to the point that they feel comfortable naming a local guardian. But they envision their child growing up here and possibly wanting to stay if they are older when their parents pass away. These parents can name a group of people who can make the best decision at the time, based on the child’s wishes and needs. Naming grandparents, aunties and uncles, friends, or other people who know your children to decide together who the guardian should be is an option for these folks.
2. Your child has a disability or other unique needs.
Many of my clients have children who are disabled and/or who have autism, or who have unique needs like intense sports training or academics due to being gifted. It can be difficult to imagine what these kids will need and at what point in their lives. Some parents may have no idea at this point whether their child will be independent, or need assistance with daily activities during adulthood. A Guardian Panel of people who know your child can help make the best decision at the time for your child when the future is unknown and the needs are unique.
3. You children have a large age gap between them.
If you have a large age gap between kids, they may have very different needs if you die or are incapacitated. A toddler and a teenager may need different guardians or have different needs that need to be taken into account at the time a guardian is needed. A Guardian Panel can work together to decide what the best situation is for both kids at the time.
Guardian Panels are a great way to make sure your kids end up with the right guardians, and you should work closely with an experienced estate planning lawyer to see if this option is right for your family.
If you want to get started on your estate plan, read about our estate planning services and schedule an appointment.
To your family's health + happiness.
~Candice N. Aiston
P.S. Want to get started slowly but surely, naming guardians for your kids? Check out our Guardian Plan kit.
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Candice N. Aiston is an Legal Planning Attorney for Estates + Businesses in the Portland, Oregon area. She helps people to prepare for a lifetime of security, prosperity, and guidance. If you would like to receive her free reports, please visit http://aistonlaw.com/ to sign up. Follow her Facebook page for daily planning tips: https://www.facebook.com/aistonlaw/.