Most parents agree that their most valuable asset is their child. However, only 36 percent of parents with children under 18 years old have estate planning documents, such as a will or trust. Estate planning is a significant aspect of managing assets and protecting your children.

Parents can start small by choosing a guardian for your children in case of a tragedy. Selecting the right guardian may seem daunting, but there are three techniques parents should consider easing the process.

Define characteristics you want in a guardian

Most parents do not realize there are two types of guardianships; there is a guardian of an estate and a guardian of a person. Depending on the type of guardian you are selecting, you want to assess the skills and personality traits for an appropriate guardian.

A typical example is a brother who is an accountant. He is a perfect guardian to your children’s estate, but his long work hours and busy schedule may impact his performance as a guardian to your children. It might work best to assign guardianship to their estate to the brother and assign custody to another relative, such as a sister or grandparent.

The qualities you are looking for are subjective. Some parents want guardians with structure and stability, while other parents want a fluid parenting style. It depends on what you and your spouse decide is best for your child’s interest.

Communicate with the potential guardian

Once you decide what qualities work for your family, make a list of the potential guardians. Try to rank them in the order of preference, and once you finish the list, start contacting the potential guardians.

Communicating with any potential guardians is a crucial step because they need to be willing to raise a child. You can select a guardian who will raise a child due to family loyalty, but a better guardian will do it out of want and love.

Once you approach the topic with a potential guardian, plan a day where you, your child and the guardian could spend time together. It will let you see how they interact and how the potential guardian acts as a parental figure.

Make it official

Once you chose a guardian, move forward and draft the necessary documents to make the choices legally binding. It is not enough to have verbal confirmation from the potential guardian; you have to have a formal, legal will which specifies the guardian of your children and their estate.

You should also include a backup option in case the guardian cannot raise the child. You may include other vital details about raising your child in a trust for your child or in your will. It’s a painful process but a necessary step for your child’s future. You want to ensure your child can grow up happily and in proper care.