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.
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.
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.