Who to leave children with in case of death


Morbid topic I know, but my husband and I are delaying doing our will because we are at a total loss as far as who to leave our children with. One set of parents are falling away Catholics (still say they are) but trash the church every second they can, are proud to support pro abortion candidates and want female priests. The other are wonderful Catholics but not in good health. Siblings are out of state, not married, married but fall in line with the first set of parents etc…so what is one to do in a situtation like this. I feel like many other Catholic families must be in the same predicatment. What do you all suggest?


We chose my dear in-laws, because of everyone we know, they are the only ones who know the children, usually make it to weekly Mass, attend some Holy Days, and are under the age of 70.

It’s the best we’ve got, so we just have to go with it.

I would leave my kids with my aunt and uncle in another state (both practicing Catholics) if my in-laws were unable to care for them. I wouldn’t want my kids to be with my parents or siblings at all because of the hostility they show toward the Church and/or the series of morally devoid choices they’ve made in life.

Who do you most trust with your children’s souls? I would pick the wonderful Catholics who had less than ideal health, but that’s just me. :smiley:


What about their Godparents?

You can state more than one person. For example, you could state the Catholics in ill health as your first choic, and then say that if they are unable then x, and also explain your wishes in regard to the criteria that is important so that a judge can decide based on your wishes. Yes, you can put all that in a will as far as I know!


I SOOOO know how you feel on this one! We have not updated our wills forever, and they are so out of date we would probably be declared as having died intestate! :frowning: (They even list us as residents of the wrong state…that’s how old they are!)

And a big part of the reason is what to do with the kids. You cannot legally will your children to anyone, but you can state your preferences in your will. We too, will most likely end up going with my husband’s parents, but even that choice doesn’t feel like the best. Though it is.

They are, at least, practicing Catholics. DH’s brother and his wife haven’t been to Mass in years, and we have no idea what they really believe. And also, they have chosen not to have children. We don’t want our kids with people who would resent them. But we are a bit afraid that DH’s parents would resent them too, for imposing on their old age, for interrupting their retirement. My dad and stepmom have openly admitted that they would not continue to take the children to the Catholic church. Offensive, but at least honest. My stepmom’s comment was, “As long as it’s a Christian church, it shouldn’t really matter, right?” I told her it would at least matter to my oldest, who is a pretty serious Catholic, and aleady confirmed. As an ex-Catholic, she knows there is a huge difference, which is why she doesn’t practice anymore! My mom is a total loss when it comes to either faith or trusting her with our children. My own childhood was badly wrecked enough by her inability to give up her self-centeredness and BAD decision-making. I would resurrect myself before I allowed my children to be raised by her.

Basically, I have told my husband that we are not allowed to die. :o Or at least, not both at the same time. :shrug: As for godparents, for most of them, that would be DH’s parents or brother, and also a friend who was, frankly, ill-chosen and who we wish we could change.


I can understand how you feel too. We have the same problems, but we decided to leave our dd with one of my sisters who has two children at around my daughters age and they have grown up close together and are more like siblings than cousins. My sister is divorce, but we rather go to an aunt that will keep her Catholic Faith. My other sisters are married still, but not Catholic and are against the Church. One oldest sister has her children grown and her health is failing. We also put my parents in case my sister can’t take her. My parents are devout Catholic, but they are getting older and have some health issues as well.

This was a difficult situation for us also, but we went to my single parent sister.


I’d take a divorced person who is serious about their faith over some of our choices! Divorce happens to people, especially with our no-fault laws. Growing up in the Church would be my first priority…

I am happy for you that you have a person you really trust for this. :slight_smile:


One step I’ve taken is to talk to my children’s Godparents. I’ve asked them in the event of my death (or my husbands and mines) to take my kids to Mass. My husband is not Catholic.

And, I’ve purchased Life insurance that I’ve designated to be used for Catholic school.

We also have the complication that none of my family is suitable. And, his nonCatholic family are very suitable, but, well, not Catholic. They are very good Protestant Christians–much better morally than my own siblings.

And, I’m pretty sure the kids would have to separated. Who can handle six kids in addition to their own?

Actually, I would much rather that several of my very devout Catholic friends would rear my kids in the event of our deaths, but I don’t think his family would allow that–I think they’d insist on rearing them. At least in his family, they’d be reared in a Christian household. Very good people, but, well–not Catholic. And, maybe a little more worldly than I would like. But, not terribly so.

Just have to pray and trust, I guess.


I think in most cases, it’s impossible to choose the “perfect” people to stand in our place for our kids if we die.

A good practicing Catholic is obviously the best choice. But that’s not always going to be possible. The next most important thing you have to look at is “who are your children closest to?”

Who will they be most comfortable with? Whose home is the most familiar to them? These questions will mean the world to a child that just loss their parents and has to make the transition into a new home with a new “family”.

I really believe if you died, your children would be better off with an anti-Catholic grandma that is like a second mother to them than a distant Catholic relative that they’ve never even met before.

No, it’s not ideal. Just as it’s not an ideal situation for a child to lose a parent. It stinks. But the child is going to have a grieving process to go through and you need to consider the best way to get them through that grieving process.
The rest you have to put in God’s hands and trust that He will handle the situation.


We’ve had to do this as retread parents. We chose our good friend and her husband, as they are young, like our kids, will not abuse them, will not use them for baby-sitters when they have their own, and gosh darn it, they are good Catholics.

The extended family can visit them at our friends’ house.


Agree with your advice.

I’m going through that decision right now. The practicing Catholic family members (daily mass attendees) of my dd always fight and don’t know the first thing about forgiveness (not to mention, they bury their heads in the sand when it comes to emotional/psychological needs and disorders, which a few of them have). My family attend mass only for weddings and funerals, don’t know much about the teachings of the Church (but also don’t bad-mouth the Church) but are kind and welcoming and forgiving of others’ sins and failings.

Family is very important to me, so heaven forbid if that day were to come when my dd is a minor and both her parents are taken, I would want to make sure that she would A) attend mass weekly and attend a Catholic school; B) see both sides of her family regularly; and C) be in a peaceful and stable home.

I trust one of her uncles (but not his wife) in bringing her up in the faith and I trust my sister (who’s in her first year at college). Both my dd’s uncle and my sister get along well enough and feel comfortable enough around the other’s family (dd’s uncle gets along with my family, my sister gets along with dd’s dad’s family). But, my dd doesn’t see them enough to be comfortable with either. She’s mainly attached to my mom, step-dad and one of my cousins (my mom can barely walk and my step-dad is blind and my cousin is in a very terrible codependency relationship with my aunt - her mother).

To OP, you’re definitely not alone.


My kids would have to go to my IL’s - they aren’t Catholic, they are actually slightly anti-Catholic, but they will be loved and raised in a Christian, Evangelical home. It’s the best, if still flawed,situation.
I like this idea though of setting aside money specifically for Catholic education. I would hope that my IL’s would honor my request…


I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately since a close friend of mine just passed away leaving a young wife, a 4 year-old daughter, and a 1 year-old son. How do you even begin the process of starting a will? Call around to attorneys? Do they then guide you through the whole process?


It is my understanding that in a will you designate your children a “guardian” but that this person is not necessarily the person who is going to take your children…however they do make the decision so you should have ongoing conversations with them as the years pass.

We struggled with this much but chose my parents as guardians. Now, my mother will choose the best place for my children. That may be with her…it may be with my sister…who knows? Right now one of my sisters may not be the best choice but in 5 years she might be. Right now my parents might be okay but in 5 years might have health problems. Life changes so much you really cannot make a decision where your children go, you need to pick a guardian that can make this decision for you.

Hope this helps.


What my parents did was to appoint family friends as guardians, whom us kids call aunt and uncle. They’re not Catholics, and they attend church only once every three weeks. But they would be good parents, already had one child, and were young enough to handle kids of a wide range of ages! And willing enough to handle two hard of hearing kids. My parents asked them and they said yes.

But Mom and Dad told me (since I was the oldest), that I would be in charge of my and my siblings spritual growth while our guardians would be in charge of our physical growth. That was their solution. (I’m also godmother to one of my younger sisters…at age 16!) That could be your option. Appt. younger people to take care of your kids, and have somebody else be in charge of their spiritual growth.

Anyway, when I turned 19 (stupid different age rule in my state says 19 not 18) they updated their wills and appointed me guardian of all 5 of my siblings. I know 19 is young, plus I’m going to college and all that, but I’m more than willing to drop out or at least continue my studies very minimally. I’d be assisted by my now 18 yr old brother (still not an adult legally :shrug: ), to raise the 4 younger ones, age 4 to 9. “Gracie’s Choice” resonated with me for that reason.

I hope you never have to die! But people, def. update your wills, otherwise your kids could be in custody of the state if they’re so out of date…that would be bad!


My husband and I struggled with this. We ended up deciding to appoint a friend who is not Catholic but is a devout Christian and understands our Faith and is mother-like to our son. I wrote her a long letter explaining that I do not expect her to take him, but I do ask that she find a good home for him. I also shared our beliefs, what we want for him and stressed the importance of a Catholic education and life for him.

Don’t put off your will just because of the guardianship issue. God bless you!


Those are two very good ideas! :thumbsup:

I was just thinking that this is another very good reason to have as many children as you blessedly can–it leaves more options for guardians! I’m stuck with just 1 brother (non-Catholic), and DH’s whole family is non-Catholic. So my parents are our only Catholic family we could designate as guardians. They also happen to be our children’s godparents :wink: And thank goodness they had me relatively young (they’re 50 now). But if I had more brothers and sisters, I would probably feel a lot more secure with this issue.


OP, you’re not alone, not by a long shot!

My parents are, frankly, lousy Catholics and vocally anti-Pope, pro-women-priests, NFP-is-stupid, etc. They go to mass every week, but I couldn’t guess why. My brother (go figure) became agnostic for a while, then met his wife and became Protestant. My in-laws are Protestant, and my husband’s parents are not in the best health and my SIL is young, single, and not really situated to take on kids.

Still, all things considered, we reluctantly listed my husband’s parents as the preferred guardians. THEN, we talked to them about it, making it clear that no, Episcopalian isn’t close enough, we want the kids raised Catholic. Not ideal, but I trust that with them at least the kids will be raised in a solidly Christian home. (my parents assume (and said as much) that they’d get the kids because they’re the only Catholics in the immediate relations…)

Frankly, though, I really wish I had more brothers and sisters to chose from. Yet another crummy consequence of the two-children-or-less mentality. :frowning:


Well… I had been thinking of this recently too. Here is what works for me:

If I die, my dh (who is not the father of my kids) will continue to raise them, if we both die, my oldest ds (age 20) would offer to take the kids but so would their godparents who, thankfully are good Catholics, but one is in ND and the other in PA so all my kids would be separated if they chose that option. I am thinking that since the kids are older, the choice would be theirs… and they would choose to live with their brother. He lives 17 miles away, and has a bigger house than we do. He is also very close to his brother and sister.

OTOH… as for my step daughter… if I were to die… nothing would change, but if her dad were to die, I would still pursue visitation since she is such a part of the family. Now if her mom died, even though she has a stepdad, we would ask for custody of her since her dad and I are very active in her life.


**We have thought about this in the past, especially when we flew to Mexico last year just the two of us.

We decided on one of my brother’s (I have 5 of them), who is very devout married Catholic, w/ 4 kids of his own. It is hard because leaving them w/ Godparents would mean for us, that our kids would not be together anymore:( I couldn’t do that to my kids. Wherever one goes, they all go. Gosh, I honestly hate the thought of this topic!! :o **


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