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What would you do in a family crisis as this?
Old 06-26-2020, 04:58 PM   #1
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What would you do in a family crisis as this?

DH brother asked us to be legal guardians to his 1 year old daughter if he (DB and DSI) die. We do not have children. His life insurance would go towards raising her ($1M).

My perspective is I do not want to be legally responsible for raising the child. Not that I wouldn’t be there, offer our home, take her in etc. until a decision could be made as to what’s best for her. I don’t want to sign a legal document that automatically makes me her parent in that terrible event.

Does anyone have experience in a situation like this? Can family get together and make that decision at the time if such a thing were to happen? Would appreciate any input about the legality and process of this type of situation.
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Old 06-26-2020, 05:07 PM   #2
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My perspective is I do not want to be legally responsible for raising the child.
Then your best approach is to tell him that right now.
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Old 06-26-2020, 05:08 PM   #3
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It's pretty standard advice for parents to name legal guardians in case of such a situation. I don't think them naming you is legally binding if you really aren't in a good position to do this, or really don't want to. After all, they could name you without even asking you, and I doubt you'd be compelled. It is much better when they do ask.

I don't know who else is available but they may want to make sure there's not a big dispute if they didn't name someone and they died. Just for example, maybe there is another close relative who really isn't fit to be a guardian but has their eyes on that $1M, and misappropriating it. Or someone who has religious views that don't match, or maybe grandparents who really are too old but insist they should be the ones.

I have no experience with real life cases of this happening.
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Old 06-26-2020, 05:09 PM   #4
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This is a very difficult issue to address.

Is your husband on board that he does not want children also?

If so, personally, I think you have to have a discussion with your husband and his brother/brother's wife to discuss this. If it were my children I would not want them to go to a house they were not wanted.

If your husband is not on board and would welcome the children then you have a much bigger problem in that your husband will have a hard time saying no. If that's the case then you may have to accept the children and help raise them. I would never ask my spouse to not take the children if he felt he should.

My children are grown and out of the house but my wife and I are potential future guardians of my brother's child and my wife's brother's two kids, should something happen. I'd happily take that responsibility and change my life from retired no kids to parent to help the kids in a desperate time of need.
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Old 06-26-2020, 05:13 PM   #5
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I faced this decision 3 times in the last 15 years while preparing and updating wills.

First time, our kids were under 5 years and my late wife selected a friend for that role. She was a few years older than us, but was comfortable assuming the responsibility if necessary.

Second time was within a few months of late wife's death. We agreed that with her friend now close to 60, that asking her to commit to finish raising our children would not be fair to her. When I updated my will after her passing, I named a close friend whose "second family" consists of kids younger than mine.

The current will has new DW (step mom) in that role with my friend as a backup.

In all three instances, there was full conversation, and deliberation before the wills were finalized.

To what I believe to be your concern - I don't think it's appropriate to ask friends/family to spend their latter years raising my kids-unless their lives are already committed to that path.

There is no way I would ask my childless older brother (age 65) to assume responsibility for my remaining minor child.
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Old 06-26-2020, 05:18 PM   #6
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Seems rather simple. Tell them you dont want this responsibility and they should find someone else to name in their will as guardians and trustees. Its perfectly reasonable for them to ask you. Its perfectly reasonable for you to decline. Better this is worked out in advance.
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Old 06-26-2020, 09:51 PM   #7
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I think they are only considering what happens if the very unlikely happened.

Most kids that I know (now adults) that were raised in foster homes, had pretty disconnected family lives, shuffled from foster home to another home over the years until they were 18 and kicked out to the street.
I'm sure there are lovely stories being raised in foster homes - I just never ran into one.

It seemed to me, the foster parents main motivation was the $$ per month they got paid to take care of the kid. A million dollars would be very enticing.

One kid was stuck as a baby in the storage room, with the paint cans. Turns out old paint has lead and causes mental retardation.
Another was dipped into a boiling pot, thankfully she can walk still.

Hopefully you have other family that are willing to take on the slight risk of having to fulfill the job, which is a big responsibility.
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Old 06-27-2020, 05:47 AM   #8
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You should never make a decision like that based on your perception of the likelihood (or not) of the event. Search for “wrong way driver” for an example of how anyone’s life could change in an instant, without a health issue.

If you agree to be put on the document, you should be all in, with no doubts or hesitation.
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Old 06-27-2020, 06:09 AM   #9
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I think they are only considering what happens if the very unlikely happened.

Most kids that I know (now adults) that were raised in foster homes, had pretty disconnected family lives, shuffled from foster home to another home over the years until they were 18 and kicked out to the street.
I'm sure there are lovely stories being raised in foster homes - I just never ran into one.

It seemed to me, the foster parents main motivation was the $$ per month they got paid to take care of the kid. A million dollars would be very enticing.

One kid was stuck as a baby in the storage room, with the paint cans. Turns out old paint has lead and causes mental retardation.
Another was dipped into a boiling pot, thankfully she can walk still.

Hopefully you have other family that are willing to take on the slight risk of having to fulfill the job, which is a big responsibility.
We would not let her go into the foster care system. There are other family members who could be considered. I guess living all these years without the responsibility of children, maybe I feel unprepared or inexperienced as a parent. Maybe Im selfish, I dont know how to express my feelings about this. We also made the life decision not to adopt years ago. But this is a family member and makes it different. Maybe the liability scares me. Her actions, behavior, decisions and health would a large part of our responsibility.
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Old 06-27-2020, 06:32 AM   #10
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If I were the child's parent I would want to know how you feel. Tell them.
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Old 06-27-2020, 06:46 AM   #11
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It's not a crisis, it's a time for a calm, frank discussion. Decide what you and DH are willing to do, and then let BIL know.

IE, We'd be happy to be guardians for Tiny, with the goal of finding them a permanent home within say 6 months. But we're too old to commit to being full time parents of a young child, of course.
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What would you do in a family crisis as this?
Old 06-27-2020, 06:47 AM   #12
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What would you do in a family crisis as this?

When DH speaks to his brother, please tell him how honored you two are to have been considered for this role. This is standard for writing a will when one has minor children, and one of the hardest decisions involved in writing a will.

The very fact that you understand the huge responsibility tells me you would be very good at parenting, even if you do not want the role. This is exactly why you are asked.

Im not sure I would call this a crisis.
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Old 06-27-2020, 07:11 AM   #13
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You need to express your concerns now when you can help them look at all options. When my brother's children were small he and SIL named someone in her family to raise the children. I was named as the financial guardian to manage the money for the children because of my financial background. Raising children is not something I would do but I could assist with the financial well-being. This would have assisted the family member who has physical custody.

If there are other ways you can assist let that be known so they can include that in their planning process.
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Old 06-27-2020, 08:30 AM   #14
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In a recent post, you said that you and DH are 62. Since the child in question is only 1, you'll be 79 by the time the child turns 18. I'm 57 and a parent of 2 kids, 25 and 23. I love them dearly and have no regrets, but no, I wouldn't want to do it all over again at my age, unless it was a grandchild of mine and there were no better options. My grandparents raised me, but they were in their early to mid-40s when I was born. Big difference. Plus, my great-grandparents were in their 60s and available to help out in a grandparent-type supporting role.

If something happened to the parents next week, would you want to deal with potty-training, the terrible twos, consoling her in the middle of the night when she's sick or has a nightmare, the extra laundry/cooking/cleaning/shopping, her friends and the resultant noise/drama, teachers, homework, teaching safe Internet usage, the teenage years, shopping for prom dresses, dating, job/college/trade school options, learning to drive, etc. There's a lot of joy and fun mixed in that makes it all worthwhile if you have the patience, energy, and desire for the task.
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Old 06-27-2020, 09:06 AM   #15
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As others have suggested, I agree the best approach is to be upfront and say you are honored you got asked but that you aren't comfortable for the responsibility.

A family meeting my work, depending on the family. I've been at a family meeting for a family crisis and things went like many meetings. Some really want to get involved and help. Some want to ignore and hide. Some talk a good talk and want to delegate to others.

Good luck.
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Old 06-27-2020, 09:12 AM   #16
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Looks like your husband's brother and wife are honoring you two - saying that of all the people they know you two are the ones they admire the most and would trust to raise their child. We had neighbors who were in the military and when one went over to Iraq they asked us to sign on as guardians for their kid. She was ten or so. The odds were tiny that we would be called on to care for the kid, but we are responsible people and it gave them some comfort to feel they had done what they could do for their child should the worst come to pass.
Respect the honor being conferred upon you and humbly thank them for that before telling them you cannot accept out of concern for your inability to adequately protect and nurture their child in your dotage.
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Old 06-27-2020, 09:18 AM   #17
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My daughter was deemed an unfit mother by the local Circuit Court Judge. She was/is into drugs and hangs around with criminals--to put it bluntly.

Her son went to live with his father, and we see him every other weekend. Our granddaughter came to live with us permanently at age 4. She's almost 9 now, and doing great.

We didn't plan on starting another family in our retirement years, but you have to do what you have to do. We didn't want our granddaughter growing up in state foster care where so many "parents" are just in it for the money.

If something happens where we cannot take care of Brynley, she'll go to her 50 year old aunt out of state who will take care of her. We have a Special Needs Trust where the money to raise the young lady is in place to where she won't be any fiscal drain on anyone. It's tough to be in your 70's with a 4th grader, but we take care of our own in our family.
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Old 06-27-2020, 09:58 AM   #18
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OP--If you and DH do not want this responsibility, please let your in laws know now, so they can name different guardians.
After the fact, when it would be a family crisis time due to their deaths, is not the time to try to find new guardians/parents.
If DH wants to do this, but you don't, that's a different issue to be discussed.
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Old 06-27-2020, 10:07 AM   #19
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I was taught in a wills and estate course at college that documents suggest, but courts appoint. I.e. It ain't final bc it's written down
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Old 06-27-2020, 10:50 AM   #20
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I was taught in a wills and estate course at college that documents suggest, but courts appoint. I.e. It ain't final bc it's written down
We are all in except for the legality and permanence of raising her. Foster care is out of the question. Thanks, I just found this PDF regarding what you said. It's much more complicated than I imagined.



https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/planning.pdf
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