A guardianship letter is a type of estate planning letter written by a parent explaining his or her choice of guardian for minor children named in a last will and testament. There is no specific form you need to follow when writing a guardianship letter, but you should try to address the most relevant reasons for choosing a specific individual as guardian.
When writing a guardianship letter, consider the factors that were most important to you in choosing a guardian. Some of the factors that may be important when choosing a guardian for your children include: a. where the guardian lives; b. the guardian’s ability to provide a suitable home; c. the guardian’s ability to raise your children according to your wishes; d. the likelihood that the guardian will make it easy for your children to visit their relatives and friends; e. the ability of the guardian to handle the work involved in raising your children; and f. the guardian’s interest in assuming this responsibility.
Other factors you may want to address in your letter regarding choice of guardian include: i. the guardian’s relationship with your children; ii. his or her prior experience as a parent; iii. the relationship between your children and any children of the guardian; and iv. whether the guardian is able to spend a sufficient amount of time at home with your children. Parenting style, religious preferences, and shared values may also be important factors in your choice of guardian.
Your letter should describe the factors you considered and why you chose the person you named as guardian in your will in light of those factors. If you named an alternate guardian or successor guardian to care for your children in the event your first choice of guardian is unable to keep them, you should also explain your reasons for choosing the person named as alternate or successor guardian.
A guardianship letter is typically stored with the parent’s last will and testament. A guardianship letter is not legally binding. See Child Guardian Letter for more information.
Protecting Property Left to Your Children
The person you choose as guardian for your children may not be the best person to serve as guardian of the property your children inherit. The qualities you want in a guardian of children may be different than the qualities that make a person a good financial manager. The person you name as successor trustee of your living trust, executor of your will or guardian of property can be different than the person you choose as guardian of your children. If you have questions about how to choose a guardian, trustee or executor, consult your estate planning lawyer. See our free Parents Estate Planning Guide for related information.
Sample Guardianship Letter Form
To My Family and the Executor of My Will
The purpose of this letter is to explain my reasons for naming Maria Lopez the guardian of my minor children, Christopher and Lauren, in the event of my death. I ask that my family support my decision and do whatever they can to help my children transition to their life with Maria.
If any of you disagree with my decision to name Maria as guardian, please understand I gave careful consideration to all the issues involved in making this decision. I made this decision based solely on the best interests of my children. If any of you are disappointed, hurt or offended by my choice of guardian, that was never my intention. I was fortunate to have each of you in my life and hope you will all continue to be part of the lives of my children.
I am confident Maria Lopez will be an excellent guardian. She has raised three wonderful children of her own and has spent a lot of time with Christopher and Lauren. Maria is active in our church and shares my faith. She and her husband, Bernard, have a stable home life and share my values.
I discussed my plans to name Maria as guardian with Maria and Bernard at length. Maria has also agreed to serve as caretaker of our dogs, Brownie and Jake, if the dogs survive me. Because Maria is able to provide a home for our family pets as well, Christopher and Lauren will not have to be separated from the pets they love so much. It is very important to me that Christopher and Lauren be able to continue with as much of their existing life as possible, including their pets, church, sports, and the activities at their current schools in Morgan County. I have chosen Maria as their guardian so they will be able to do that.
Maria knows both of my parents and has a good relationship with them. She understands the importance of making sure Christopher and Lauren see their grandparents on a regular basis. Maria has spent a lot of time with my sister, Denise, and also understands I want Denise to be able to visit my children whenever Denise comes back to Texas to visit.
My ex-husband, Stanley Gibson, is not a suitable guardian for Christopher and Lauren. Stanley is an alcoholic and has been unable to hold a job for several years. He has not seen the children in three years and has never paid any child support. Stanley’s parents are deceased and my children do not have a relationship with any relatives from Stanley’s family.
Thank you for honoring my choice of guardian for my minor children. Please do what you can to help Christopher and Lauren by supporting Maria as their guardian.
Note: Consult an attorney licensed in your state about your unique circumstances and estate planning objectives when making a will and writing a guardianship letter regarding your choice of guardian for minor children.