Consider Your Guardian Carefully When You Modify an Estate Plan After Adoption

For most parents, choosing a guardian for their minor children is the most important aspect of creating an estate plan. If the parents later decide to adopt another child in order to grow their family, an update to the estate plan is a wise idea. One area to address is the guardianship appointment. The ideal guardian for your young children may be different now that your family includes adopted as well as biological children. The needs of adopted children are sometimes different than those of biological children.

Seven Tips for Choosing a Guardian of an Adopted Child

Modifying your estate plan to appoint a guardian of your adopted child is an important process. As you think carefully about this vital provision, consider the following:

  1. If you do not name a guardian in your estate plan, you may have several relatives that could fight for custody of the adopted to child. This may be a stressful experience for the child.
  2. If you do not name a guardian in your estate plan and you have no relatives that are willing or able to step in, the adopted child could also end up in foster care if you do not address guardianship ahead of time in your will.
  3. To prevent conflict, and ease the transition for your child, modify your will to include first, second, and even third choice guardians. Explain to both the child and the guardians your reasons for making these choices.
  4. Choose a guardian who your child knows and trusts. Adopted children often have been through trauma and loss in their short lives. Minimizing disruption, and fostering a feeling of security and continuity, is very important for the child.
  5. Choose a guardian with a thorough knowledge and understanding of your child’s background and the adoption process. This will allow the guardian to answer questions that the child may have in the future about their adoption.
  6. If the adoption is open or partially open, ensure that the guardian is willing to respect and honor the agreement with the birth parents. If your first choice guardian refuses to continue the relationship with the birth parents, you can include provisions in your will to remove the first choice and instead utilize the second choice guardian.
  7. Choose a guardian who is willing to learn about the unique issues that stem from adoption and how best to help the child grow and thrive.

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James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm
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