Creating a will involves making many decisions–how to divide property, whom to bequeath your prized possessions, who will care for your children, etc. Choosing a guardian to care for your young children should not be done on impulse. Here are a few tips to follow when selecting a guardian.

Always name a temporary or short-term guardian, and a permanent or long-term one. A temporary guardian is one who assumed guardianship on a temporary basis, such as when you are temporarily incapable of caring for your children due to illness or being away on business for a few months. A permanent guardian assumes guardianship when you pass away.

Choose alternate guardians. You should choose at least two alternates for both your temporary and permanent guardians in the event either one is not available when you need them.

When considering a couple as guardians, decide whether you want both persons to be guardians or just one of them. If you name your brother and his wife as guardians, and something happens to your brother, his wife, whom you really never could stand, would be guardian of your children. Using phrases like “jointly only”, “alone” or “jointly or the survivor” will clearly define whom you want as guardians for your children.

Exclude in writing those individuals you do not want as guardians for your children. You can draw up a legal document naming such persons and have it notarized. Don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings. You have a right to protect the interests of your children after you are no longer around to do it yourself.