Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Archive for April 2012

Advice on Choosing a Legal Guardian for Your Children

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Charity and I were honored to help some friends think through who they would choose to be the legal guardians of their children.  I’ve typed up the thoughts from our discussion in case they are helpful to others.

Advice on Choosing a Legal Guardian for Your Children

You need to make this decision: Your sudden death is difficult to think about and unlikely, but it might happen. You are in charge of deciding what is best for your child.  Make this decision now and state it clearly in your written will. This will save your children and your families a lot of grief, uncertainty, and arguing during one of the worst times of their lives.

Who to choose? Is there an obvious choice of grandparents, siblings, or close family friends?  If not then this might require more thought.

Questions to think about when choosing a legal guardian:

–       Do they love you and do they love your child?

–       Are they emotionally healthy people?

–       Do they share the same values you do?  Religious, cultural, etc.

–       Do they have the resources (emotional, time, etc) to raise your kids well?  For example grandparents may be too old to effectively monitor and guide a child.  Making your sibling a single parent may not be what they want or what they can handle.  That said; let them make the decision if you think they would be the best people for the job.

–       How important is having your child raised by blood relatives compared to friends who may have values closer to yours and be in a more similar life situation?

–       Peruse this excellent list of questions and suggestions.

Action steps once you have made a decision:

You must get a written will.  In it you will name an executor.  Will he or she know about your choice of who the legal guardians will be? (see question below as you think about this).

Write letters to your child about why each of you chose the legal guardian. Should something happen it will be good for the legal guardians have your endorsement and for your children to know that you chose the guardians out of love for them.

Think carefully about telling your kids about your plan:  Your sudden death is pretty unlikely.  It probably isn’t helpful to plant the idea of you dying in the minds of your kids.  It can be unnerving.  Your letter to them will be explanation enough should the time come.  On the other hand it might be helpful if they chose who to live with.  They may have  opinions and preferences you are not aware of.

Think carefully about telling other people about your choice:  Your sudden death is unlikely.  Is it really helpful to create hard feelings in all the people who you aren’t choosing?  If you decide to make your choice known to your family think carefully about how to introduce to the idea to them.

Topics for Discussion with the Legal Guardian(s)

Set a schedule for reevaluating your choice: This decision is about what is best for your child and that will likely change over the years.  What if the family you choose has twins or a child with special needs? What if the parents get divorced? What if you move to a new town and find a family you trust with kids the same age?  Setting the expectation of regular reevaluations will reduce hurt feelings if should you change your mind.

Finances:  You will need to have a frank & open discussion about your finances with the legal guardians. 

–       How much will you be leaving to your child?  This helps the legal guardians have a real sense of the financial burden of raising your children.

–       How will the inheritance be dispersed?  Will it go into the new parents’ finances (say to help buy a bigger house to hold your children) and then the new parents will treat each child (theirs and yours) as equals?  Will it be something that the new parents have access to for expenditures on your child over time (medical bills, private school, special trips to see family, etc)?  Will it be a trust that the child would get at a certain age (say 28) or for college?  Think carefully about how your choices will shape your child and their relationship to their new siblings/parents.  Put your decision in your will.

–       Are you qualified to give your child social security survival benefits?

–       Other financial assets they should know about?

Be clear about expectations for visiting your families. 

–       Have an open discussion about how to handle visiting four sets of grandparents, plus other extended family.

–       Will the children go on their own?  Will the whole family travel?

Discuss extended family issues they should be aware of

–       Will any family members oppose the child “leaving the family”, especially will they oppose it in a formal legal sense?

–       Any issues that they should know in navigating your families? For example, would it be dangerous to let the child be alone with a particular aunt or uncle?  Does a cousin have a history of mental illness?  This could be written in a sealed letter enclosed with the will that would only be opened if you died.

Questions to ask if you don’t live in the same town:

–       How frequently do you need to see each other for things go as smoothly as possible for the child should something happen, especially given how unlikely such an event would be?

–       Does it need to be in the other person’s town so the child will know the new house or new town?

–       How will this work if either party moves outside of an easy drive from you?

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Written by furthermusings

April 25, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Posted in Reflections

Signs from Providence

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Yet another reason we’re really excited about what this new place will have to offer.  One hour to Boston3.5 to New York City.  By train or by car.  Very excited!

Written by furthermusings

April 18, 2012 at 8:30 pm

This Old House

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As we hoped and prayed this spring about the new job in Rhode Island we also watched a lot of TV.  One of my favorite Saturday morning shows is This Old House on PBS.  This season they renovated a gorgeous beach house just outside of Providence.  In addition to installing siding and expanding bathrooms, the show features what is unique about the local community.  Learning about lighthouses, clambakes, and Newport mansions helped us get excited about living in the Ocean State.

After the interview we took 25 minutes and drove down to see the house.  It was cool and the view out onto Narragansett Bay was even better.  It definitely helped get us excited.

Written by furthermusings

April 17, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Posted in Geeky Blogs, Travel

Pleasures of a Home Office

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One great thing about this year has been the progression of Charity’s career.  The home office has been a welcome change from a commute and a dreary office building.

Written by furthermusings

April 16, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Noodles!

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In just seven weeks our lease runs out and we’ll be moving again (thankfully something great has worked out).  As such we’re beginning to shed yet more things that we don’t think we’ll need in an apartment in Providence, RI. 

We started with our swimming noodles we bought our first month of marriage, seven years ago.  Luke and Samuel, our young neighbors down the street, have new toys to play with this summer.

Kinda feels like flying to me.

Written by furthermusings

April 15, 2012 at 9:23 am

Posted in At the House, Pictures

That Distant Land

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My evenings with Wendell are slowly drawing to a close as I work my way through his fiction.  He’s been a lovely voice and mentor to listen to… an apostle of rootedness and community in a time of great personal transition.

Most recently I finished That Distant Land, Berry’s collected short-stories about the Port William community.  These were by far the funniest writings I’ve read by him, and also some of the most poignant. The stories are set across a century, from the 1880s to the 1980s.  Telling stories about one community over such an arc of time means you get to see the characters grow up, love the land and the neighbors, and die off in a rhythmic wave that reminds me of both how little and how much our lives really are.

The giant Tol Proudfoot with hair that stands out like an old straw broom and his minute wife, Miss Minny, frame the largest section of the book.  Their late marriage, deep love, and infertility moved me as much as their antics made me laugh.  Wild man Uncle Burley Coulter chases coons with the hounds, grieves, regrets and grows as a character, and dies a death that is a premonition of the best New Yorker article I’ve ever read.

This was a treasure of a book.  I’m deeply grateful to have spend so many evenings with Wendell this year.

Written by furthermusings

April 9, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Posted in Reflections, Reviews