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Have minor children? Appoint a guardian when estate planning

When preparing one's estate, there are so many little and big things to consider that it can feel overwhelming. Going it alone is not necessarily the wisest choice, as items of significant importance may be overlooked. For example, if one has minor children, naming a guardian is the best way to ensure that they are raised by someone that one trusts. Appointing guardianship of minor children is something that parents in California can do during the estate planning process.

Why name a guardian? What is the role of a guardian? Is this a permanent position? These are just a few of the many questions one might have before naming someone to this role.

Why name a guardian? It is not necessarily a requirement, but if one does not name a guardian, in the event of one's death or incapacitation, a judge will then get to decide who will be responsible for caring for one's children. Naming a guardian simply offers piece of mind that children will be cared for by the person one believes is best suited for the job.

What is the role of a guardian? A guardian has many responsibilities. He or she will manage any money one leaves for one's children. He or she will also be charged with ensuring children have a suitable home, are getting an education, have food to eat and have their medical needs met -- among various other responsibilities.

Is a guardianship a permanent position? Not necessarily. Guardianships end for various reasons, including:

  • Child turns 18
  • Child dies
  • Court decides the guardianship is not necessary
  • Guardian asks to be released

For parents of minor children in California or elsewhere, naming a guardian is not always a simple task. There are a lot of little details to consider before naming a person to this significant role. If one has questions before making this decision, an estate planning attorney can provide answers and even guidance. When the decision is made, all the appropriate legal protections can then be put in place.

Source: FindLaw, "FAQ on Guardianship of Minor Children", Accessed on June 7, 2017

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