Naming Godparents Does Not Create Legal Guardians

As we start this holiday season, it’s a great time to think about the love of our families. I hope you are blessed this holiday season and will have the opportunity to make many wonderful memories with loved ones.

As a parent, my top priority, of course, was the well-being and future of my children. I am sure that is one of your top priorities as well. You plan for your children’s future, their education, their health, and their happiness.

Godparents

Often, this planning includes the tradition of choosing godparents to guide and mentor your children if something happens to you. A godparent is traditionally someone you name to watch over your child and help them live according to your morals and values. Godparents are meant to be mentors and role models, guiding your child in matters of faith, morality, and character. The role of a godparent is deeply rooted in religious and cultural traditions.

While selecting godparents may be a meaningful tradition, it’s important to understand that naming a godparent is not the same thing as naming a legal guardian for your children. To put it bluntly, even if your child has godparents, if something happens to you, your children could end up in the care of strangers, child protective services, or in the long-term care of someone you would never want raising your children.

Legal Guardians

Naming a legal guardian for your child is a formal, legal process. A legal guardian is someone who has the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of your child, especially if you, as the parent, are unable to do so. This could occur due to your passing, incapacity, or even a temporary situation where you are not available to provide care or make important legal, financial, healthcare, or education decisions for your child. The responsibilities of a legal guardian encompass every area of your child’s life that you would normally manage as a parent. This includes everything from feeding and clothing your child to deciding where they go to school, attending parent-teacher meetings, and which extracurricular activities they participate in. Legal guardianship also includes the decisions about where your child lives and what medical treatment they should or should not receive.

Why Naming Godparents Isn’t Enough

While godparents may be deeply caring and involved in your child’s life, they have no legal authority to make decisions for your child unless they are officially appointed as legal guardians by the court. That means that until that happens (if it happens), your child’s godparents are not legally able to make any decisions for your children, including their basic care needs, education, and medical care.

Without a legal guardian designation (and, ideally, more than one) in writing and signed with the formalities of a Will, godparents may find themselves in an expensive court battle over custody rights, and they may not even be named as the legal guardians of your children at all. In fact, the court could name someone you would never want raising your kids as their legal guardian.

Life-long Legal Protection for Kids

If you’ve already chosen people you trust to serve as lifelong role models and spiritual guardians for your children as their godparents, why not give those people the legal authority to truly perform those duties if something happens to you?

But don’t stop there. The best way to keep your children safe and secure is to create a comprehensive protection plan that keeps your children in the care of the people you choose, no matter what. Ensure your children are protected. Ensure that the authorities know who to contact in an emergency and who can authorize prompt medical care. Make sure your children are never placed in protective custody – even for a minute.

Paying It Forward: How to Build Your Legacy Through Mentoring

I can readily look back and see those people who have profoundly impacted my success, both as a child and as an adult. I had, and still have, teachers and mentors that helped me build my character and ultimately assisted me in becoming successful. I couldn’t have done it without them. I will forever be grateful!

Opportunities to mentor abound. Have you tried it? One of the ways that I give back now is through the youth group at my church. Every Wednesday evening, you will find me sitting on the floor in a room with 7th-grade girls. Why? Because I know how important having a mentor can be and I have an opportunity to play a role in the lives of these young women.

By investing time and effort in mentoring, you demonstrate the essence of leadership and envision a brighter future for the coming generations by actively nurturing and passing on knowledge to younger individuals.

Mentees benefit when they are encouraged to pursue their goals and work towards a brighter future. Not only does mentoring give you the opportunity to invest in the life of another person, but it can also provide you with a unique perspective on your life and a chance to create a lasting impact in the community. As you engage in the mentorship process, you’ll find yourself reflecting on your own goals, seeking to provide a valuable experience for those you mentor.

As an Estate Planning lawyer, I recognize that true success and satisfaction arise from building a legacy that reflects who you are and your values as a leader- both personally and professionally. I have adopted a heart-centered approach to help individuals define and build their estate plans and their legacies. To discover how I can assist you in achieving your vision, schedule a free 15-minute call to discuss your plans and dreams for your family and your future.

Make Family Communication All That it Can Be!

No relationship is immune to conflict. Sooner or later, you, your partner, your children, and others in a relationship with you are bound to not see eye-to-eye about something. Research shows it is how you handle communication with others that will determine both the health and success of your relationships. And we all want our relationships to be as healthy as possible, right? Check out the infographic below from The Gottman Institute. Perhaps you have never heard of The Gottman Institute. The Gottman Institute is a resource that I have followed for years and that I have found to have great value in helping me understand how to communicate with others more successfully. What I have learned from The Gottman Institute has benefitted me personally, professionally, and in every aspect of life, which is why I am sharing it with you. I encourage you to learn about The Four Horsemen. Even more important is learning how to avoid having The Four Horsemen be part of your communication patterns. You can access more information from The Gottman Institute here.

Better Together!

Today is a huge happy Tuesday for me, and I am beyond excited to share my joy. But first, for those who don’t know my story, let me share some bits and pieces with you.

I was raised in Florida, was educated in Florida, raised my family in Florida, and practiced law in Florida. Fifty years of life in Florida, and I never thought I would ever leave Florida.

As we know, life changes, and at the prospect of my grandchildren being born and raised in Colorado, Florida lost its hold on me. I happily moved to Colorado to assume my grandmotherly role and become CoCo (my grandmother name). What could be more perfect than a part-time position on Tuesdays and Thursdays where love, relationships, connection, stretching, and learning with the grandchildren was the reality? My life was beyond wonderful.

But, as we all know, sometimes life changes, and the unexpected happens. When my husband died, I hurt. Frankly, I had never experienced such a tremendous loss, and I didn’t think I could go on. However, there were others that were not willing to let me give up. With the love and support of my children, grandchildren, and many close friends in Colorado and Florida, life changed. It looked different, but it did go on. I developed a new rhythm because I had to. And two short years later (time pretty much stands still as you grieve the loss of someone you dreamed of living out your life with), my daughter and her family announced that they were moving to Dallas, Texas.

They were kind and invited me to move with them to Dallas. However, it just didn’t seem like I should tag along. So, I stayed put. And again, I grieved a loss. I hurt, and I was alone. I spent a lot of time in Dallas. I would go to Dallas for holidays, special occasions, and grandchildren’s events. A new rhythm developed. Not ideal, but the best I could make of it.

And it bears repeating that we all know that sometimes life changes and the unexpected happens. And so it does. I have been walking on cloud nine as my daughter and family announced at the end of last year that they were coming home to Fort Collins. And today is THE day that they arrive!!!!

This (grand)mother’s HEART is so full. Not much more to say than that. So let me leave you with words from Jack Johnson’s song, “Better Together:”

“Love is the answer, at least for most of the questions in my heart.

Like why are we here? And where do we go? And how come it’s so hard?

It’s not always easy, and sometimes life can be deceiving.

—- Well, it’s always better when we’re together.

Yeah, it’s always better when we’re together!”

Listen to the full song here.