Have Young Children? Take the Time to Nominate Guardians.

One of the most common concerns of my married couple clients is what will happen to their minor children if they were to both die?

In this case, the court will appoint a guardian or guardians to take of your children.  The court will appoint the guardian(s) that it believes will be in the best interest of your children.  However, the court will give great weight to the nominee of the parents.  You can nominate a guardian in your will.  You can also nominate a guardian in a separate signed writing.

Parents should strongly consider taking the time to nominate a guardian for their minor children in the event that they are no longer able to care for them.  You will be doing a great service to your children and their potential guardians by planning for this unfortunate possibility.  Kids who have already experienced the tragedy of losing parents should not have to face the added sorrow of observing their relatives fight over their future care.

The court can appoint a Guardian of the Estate of the Minor Child and a Guardian of the Person of the Minor Child.  This will often be the same person.  A guardian of the estate manages the financial affairs of a minor and is particularly necessary when a minor inherits a large sum of money.  A guardian of the person is responsible for meeting the basic needs of the child – their protection, safety, food, shelter, medical care, and education.  Sometimes it may be best to appoint different people for these two jobs as there may be someone who will be a perfect fit for entrusting the child’s personal care to, but that person might not be the most financially savy fit to take care of the child’s estate.

Parents need to take the time to talk over this important issue with each other.  It is rarely an easy decision to make, and of course, parents need to discuss this matter with potential guardians as well.  Reach out to an estate planning attorney for advice on this important issue.  I have found many potential clients who put off this issue because they did not think they had enough assets to warrant creating a will or trust, or they did not think they could afford to hire an attorney.  Since an entire will or trust is not necessary to nominate a guardian, taking care of this issue is more affordable than you think.

If you want to learn more about Guardianships and Estate Planning, give us a call at (805) 966-0282.  While this post discusses legal issues, it is not intended as legal advice, and use of this site does not create an attorney – client relationship.


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About Tim Deakyne

Tim Deakyne is a Santa Barbara based attorney assisting clients in Estate Planning, Probate, and Trust Administration. Tim has spent his entire professional career practicing Probate Law, and has experience working with modest and large estates. He believes in making the law accessible and easy to understand for his clients so that the estate planning experience is a comforting one. Tim is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He earned his law degree from the Villanova University School of Law. He is a member of the Planned Giving Committee for UCSB and Adventures in Caring. He is on the Board of Directors for Santa Barbara Barristers. He is a volunteer with the Santa Barbara County Special Olympics, Santa Barbara AYSO, and PEP (Postpartum Education for Parents). He enjoys playing golf, basketball, cheering on the UCSB Gauchos, and most of all, spending time with his wife and three children.
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