As you work on your estate planning, an important area to prepare for is the future of your adult child with special needs. You must appoint a guardian for your child to ensure he or she is taken care of properly once you are gone. Not just anyone will do, including family and friends. There are many factors you should consider as you make this significant decision. Ask yourself the following questions as you review possible candidates.
Is the person capable?
First, you must choose someone who is capable of handling such a great responsibility. The person needs to be reliable, knowledgeable, available and healthy. You do not want to choose someone whose age or medical condition would prevent him or her from being able to fulfill duties and be around for years.
Is the person willing?
You may have found someone with all the right qualifications, but it does not matter if the person is not willing to take on the role. Discuss with the person your desire to appoint him or her as a guardian before actually doing so. Otherwise, the person may not accept, and the court will have to appoint someone else. For this reason, it is also wise to name a second choice in case the person's circumstances or willingness changes.
Is the person trustworthy?
Most important, you must establish that the guardian is trustworthy enough to care for your greatest treasure and will respect whatever degree of independence your child has. Your son or daughter should also feel comfortable with your choice. Although you cannot ensure the safety and well-being of your child, the estate planning attorney who helps you with the guardianship may also help with ensuring the guardian does the job completely and legally. If not, your lawyer may take action to establish a suitable replacement.
What will the person's responsibilities be?
The above qualities will largely depend on what the guardian's responsibilities are. There are two types: 1) guardian of the person, who is similar to a caregiver, and 2) guardian of the estate, who is similar to a trustee. The guardian may also be both types, or you may have to name two separate guardians. Whichever role(s) you want the person to play, and whether the guardianship will be limited or full, will determine who is best qualified for the position.
These are only a few things to consider concerning guardianship. For further insight into choosing a guardian and discussing alternative solutions, sp eak to a Texas estate planning lawyer today.