Choosing a Guardian

How to Name a Guardian For Your Children

by Rania Combs

The part of estate planning that most parents struggle with is naming a guardian for their children.

For some parents, the process of selecting a guardian is easy. They have close relationships with certain family members or friends who share a similar worldview. They have absolutely no hesitation about the possibility of that person stepping in to raise their children if the need arises.

But for many others, making the choice is so difficult that they don’t make a choice at all. No prospective guardian seems perfect, and they struggle with deciding which person would be best suited for the role.

If you’re a parent who has postponed making this decision, resolve to name guardians for your children this year. Below are a few reasons why you shouldn’t procrastinate any longer.

Methods of Designating a Guardian in Texas

In Texas, you can designate a guardian for your children in a Will or in a separate document. The benefit of using a separate document to designate a guardian for your children is that it can apply not only after you die but also if you become incapacitated and can’t care for your children.

If You Don’t Choose, A Judge Will Choose For You

As a parent, you have the right to personally select the person who will raise your children if the unthinkable happens. But if you name a legal guardian for your children, then a judge will make that selection in your place. And the person the judge selects might be the last person you would have chosen.

Judge’s gavel

I wrote an article that discusses the statutory guidelines courts use for appointing a guardian and how the guidelines may sometimes be problematic. You can read “Who Will Raise My Children if I Die Without Naming Guardians?” by clicking the link.

No One Is Perfect

If you’ve been putting off making the decision in hopes of finding the perfect guardian, chances are you’ll be procrastinating indefinitely. You are unique. There is no one in the world who can provide your children exactly what you can. Consequently, it is unlikely that you will find anyone who seems ideally suited to step into your shoes, regardless of how long you search.

Rather than seeking perfection, consider people who know your children well, who are involved in your children’s lives, who interact well with your children and who your children love and trust.

Evaluate the  whether they share your values, parenting style and religious traditions. And then trust your instincts. You know your children better than anyone, so you probably have a good sense of who will be best suited for the role.

Remember that although the process of selecting a guardian is difficult, the ramifications of not doing so are significant. Any choice you make is probably better than a choice that a stranger will make.

Your Decision Is Not Set In Stone

Many parents procrastinate, worrying that they’ll make the wrong choice. Always keep in mind that you can change who you’ve named as guardian at any time as your lives change and children grow. In fact, you should reevaluate your choice annually to determine whether the person you select is still the most ideal candidate for the role. If not, it is possible to appoint someone else who you believe is better qualified.

That is one of the primary reasons I recommend naming a guardian in a separate document. In the event that you change your mind, you can modify it easily and inexpensively.

You Can Name A Guardian Free

Naming a guardian won’t cost a lot either. In fact, you can do it on your own at absolutely no cost.

I believe all parents should have the opportunity to select the person who will raise their children in the event of a tragedy, and have a free resource  that will help you do that. To get it, enter your name and email in the box on the right or simply click on this link. I will send you my eBook, “Guarding Your Treasure” which includes a form that you can use in Texas to name a guardian on your own.

The decision of who will raise your children if you die is too important to be left in the hands of a stranger. So if you haven’t named a guardian for your children yet, resolve to do so right away.

This article was originally published on January 4, 2012 and updated on November 2, 2023.

About Rania

Rania graduated magna cum laude from South Texas College of Law Houston and is the founder of Rania Combs Law, PLLC. She has been licensed to practice law since 1994 and enjoys helping clients in Texas and North Carolina create estate plans that give them peace of mind.

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  1. Estate Planning Reading « The Law Office of David McDaniel

    January 20, 2012 at 5:05pm

    […] Resolve to Name Guardians for Your Children: The choice of who would raise a child in the event of the parents’ death is difficult.  The scenario itself is simply difficult for many people to contemplate.  They find even more difficulty in trying to select who should have that great joy and burden to raise a child in the parents’ stead.  As this article points out, no one is perfect, but the decision can be altered as potential guardians’ life and circumstances change. […]