Talking about who should be baby's legal guardian if the worst were to happen to you and your partner can be a really awkward conversation. Not only does the whole topic bring up thoughts of death, it’s also difficult to agree on who will best care for baby if both of you aren’t around. It’s not easy to say something like, “Well, I really think my sister would do a better job than your mother.”
To deal with this, it’s important that you first express your concerns about baby’s future with your partner. Ask them to set aside an hour or so where you can sit together and discuss your plans and options. Before you start, make it a point to agree not to bash each other’s families or friends and to be open-minded about the issue. If it seems like your partner doesn’t want to have this talk, remind them that without a proper estate plan, baby could face an uncertain future. Who would raise her? Who would manage the estate and inheritance?
If you don’t choose a guardian, you’re leaving the decision up to the probate court, where people will fight over the decision, with the judge acting as a referee without knowing what you two would’ve wanted.
Also, in some states, such as Massachusetts, a surviving spouse does not automatically become the child’s guardian. So there it’s even more important to create a will to name your partner the guardian of your child upon your death. Also, choose an alternate guardian: a person whom both of you trust to care for your children in the event that both of you become incapacitated or die.
At the end of the day, estate planning is just one of the important decisions you’ll be making as you enter this new chapter in your lives. Just make sure to always respect each other’s opinions, and if you need to, bring in a third party or therapist to help you get through it.
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