What Is a Guardian?

Deciding who will take care of things should you die unexpectedly may seem like a stressful prospect, and an estate lawyer, like from Yee Law Group, can help. However, leaving something for your family to handle may prove problematic and stressful. One of the most critical functions of an estate plan is designating a guardian to care for your children. Without this, your children may find themselves at the mercy of a family court. Find out more about what a guardian does and how to choose one to ensure your children will be in good hands.

What Is a Guardian?

Legally speaking, a guardian is a person you appoint to care for your children upon your death. This person inherits your responsibilities as a parent in the eyes of the law. A guardian is responsible for the basic needs of the children, including providing them food, shelter, access to school and clothing. The guardian also financially cares for the children. Thus, when you create your estate plan, keep in mind that the money in your estate will be under the control of the guardian until your children reach 18 years of age or another age you designate.

While a guardian is usually only necessary if your children are minors when you die, this is not always the case. If you have an adult child who requires care, either from an illness or injury, then you must appoint someone to care for them and their financial needs after your death.

Who Can Be a Guardian?

A guardian must be over the age of 18 and have sufficient means to care for the children. Your estate should provide the financial means for a guardian to assume care of your children.

How to Choose a Guardian?

The most challenging question confronting a parent is who would be best to care for their children. It may be an easy choice, or you may have your work cut out for you. Many parents choose to keep the children together and choose a family member as the guardian. In the instance of a blended family, keeping the children together may not be an option. When deciding who should care for your children, you should first pick someone who will raise the children in the same manner as you. This means maybe not choosing your sister who lives in the Arctic, but rather the one who lives in Orlando with her children.

When you decide on a guardian, you need to inform the person well in advance of meeting with your estate planning lawyer. You want to ensure that this person is amenable to taking on this responsibility in the wake of your death.