If you don’t want to be named as guardian

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Q. My sister has made me the guardian for her three kids. I’m single and I never intend to marry or have children. I love my nephews, but I don’t think I can ever be their caretaker. How can I tell her I don’t want to do it?
— Sticky

A. Choosing a guardian for minor children is one of the most important decisions a parent can make.

To choose a suitable guardian, many factors should be considered, including the lifestyle of the guardian, their values, age and health, physical location, financial stability, willingness to take on the responsibility and capability of raising a child.

On the other side of the situation is you — the potential future guardian.

Many of the same factors should be explored from your viewpoint, said Michael Green, a certified financial planner with Wechter Feldman Wealth Management in Parsippany.

The decision not to get married or have children is a lifestyle choice for you, Green said. It should be respected because choosing the wrong guardian can have consequences for the children.

Green said the loss of a parent is extremely traumatic for children.

“If they are then forced to relocate and move away from their friends, family, and support system it could be even more devastating,” Green said. “While a parent will hopefully have planned for an emergency to financially support their children, there will still likely be stress and strain on the new guardian from a financial standpoint.”

You mentioned that your sister “made you the guardian for her three kids.” Green wonders if she asked you if you would take on this colossal responsibility to raise her three children, or if she simply told you that she made this selection.

Either way, he said being upfront and honest with your sister is definitely the best way to go.

“Being the guardian for three children, when you are clearly not interested in serving in that role, is not fair to you — and especially not fair to your nephews, Green said. “As a parent, I would think your sister’s paramount concern is the well-being, health, and safety of her three children.”

So she needs to consider what the best overall situation would be for her kids in the event of her untimely passing.

Green recommends you let your sister know that you are honored to be her choice to raise her children. But then also tell her for the reasons we’ve mentioned, and mostly for the benefit of her children, you are not the right person for this role.

If you have ideas for other potential guardians, you may even offer up some alternatives, he said.

“In the end, your sister needs to do what is best for her children,” Green said. “By you making it clear that you are not the right choice for this role, she should be thankful that you are thinking of her children’s well-being.”

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This post was first published in November 2017.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.