This is not a light topic, but if you’re reading a parenting magazine during a pandemic and nationwide protests, you’re probably adulting pretty hard at this point anyway. If you have children, you likely know you should make a will or do some kind of estate planning to provide for their care in case something happens to you.
If you’ve been procrastinating, don’t worry, you’re not alone–it happens all the time. People procrastinate because it sounds expensive, their free time is nonexistent, or they’re overwhelmed by where to begin.
Often people procrastinate because they’re having a hard time figuring out who they should choose to raise their children if they were to pass away.
This can be a difficult conversation between parents. When a couple cannot decide on guardians, sometimes this exercise can help:
Step One: Make a list of five people you might possibly consider, in any order. This is a brainstorm, so just list their names without thinking through all the pros and cons.
Step Two: On a different piece of paper, make a list of the top five qualities you would want your children’s guardian to have. This list should be in order, meaning the number one quality is the one that is most important to you.
For example, this person should 1. LOVE MY KIDS. Or, this person should 1. BE FAMILY. Or this person should 1. LIVE ON MAUI. Or, this person should 1. BE MY SAME RELIGION. You get the idea.
So now you have your list of the most important five qualities for someone raising your kids, ranked 1-5. Now go back to your first list of people and score them. That’s right, I said that. Score them. Of the five, who is highest in your number one quality? That person gets a five, and the next gets a four, and so on. Then do the number two quality. Then add up the scores.
This may seem a little insensitive. I’m not suggesting the person with the highest score is automatically going to be your choice. Sometimes that’s how it happens. Sometimes it makes a couple realize their number one quality is really the only quality that matters to them. Sometimes it just starts a great conversation that leads to a good choice.
Meg Obenauf is a lawyer mama and the founder of Obenauf Law Group, an estate planning firm in Wailuku and now on Zoom.