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End-of-Life Issues: Ensuring Care for Children

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This may be the most upsetting legal arrangement you have to make. As a parent, you don't want to envision a time when you can't care for your children. Still, to make sure your children are loved and well cared for, it's important to think about this issue. If you don't make plans for the care of your children, the state in which you live likely will make these decisions without considering your wishes.

If you are part of a two-parent household, it's likely the surviving parent will become the guardian of your children. If you are a single parent or if the other parent has been abusive or has legally abandoned the child by not providing for or being involved in the child's life for a long period of time or is an unfit parent, you should probably name a legal guardian.

A legal guardian is a person who has the legal authority to care for the personal and/or property interests of another person. In the case of children (usually those younger than 18), the legal guardian is responsible for the child's physical care, education, health, and welfare, as well as making decisions about faith-based issues.

Think about who you would like to care for your children and talk to that person. You need to make sure the person you're considering wants the long-term responsibility of being a guardian. If you have more than one child, you need to make sure the person you're considering is agreeable. You also need to make sure you name the same guardian for all your children.

If your child has another parent, both of you need to agree on who will be the guardian.

There are several categories of legal guardianship and the laws about guardianship are complex and vary widely from state to state. It's a good idea to talk to an attorney about creating guardianship documents to ensure they comply with the laws of your state and carry out your wishes for your children's care.

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