In our last post, we began giving tips for making a selection on a guardian. Here'll we'll pick back up on the thread. In addition to being open to non-family members and separating the functions of raising children and handling their money, a third tip is to select one person to act as guardian, but have a backup selection.
Many people initially want to select a couple as their guardians to provide a family-like environment for their children if they die. But one reason not to do that is that is that there could be legal problems if the couple separates. Another reason to pick only one is that you may truly only be comfortable with one of the parties as a guardian, but not the other. If you would really trust both of them, you can always name one as guardian and the other as backup.
If you're divorced, you should consider naming your ex-spouse as guardian for your children. This will work well for couples who have divorced amicably and still trust one another as responsible adults. For others, there may be trust issues. Those in this situation should realize that, in reality, it is difficult to prevent an ex-spouse from gaining custody of the children unless he or she has serious problems.
Those who are divorced and remarried may have their spouse adopt the children, which will put further legal distance between the children and an untrustworthy ex-spouse. Another thing that can be done is to provide a letter in your will detailing why you feel your ex-spouse should not get the children. A judge may not follow through with your wishes, but it can help them make a better informed decision. It may be, though, that an ex-spouse doesn't want to act as the guardian. In such cases, you will still want to name a guardian.
Finally, any selection of a guardian should be revisited after the fact, particularly at key points in the children's growth. Your decision could change over time depending on circumstances, and reconsidering the issue will make sure your selection is the best one you can make based on what you know.
Source: MSN Money, "Who will take care of your kids if you die?," Liz Pulliam Weston, no publication date provided.