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Naming a Guardian for Minor Children
Barring exceptional circumstances, if your child’s other parent survives you, then that parent continues as the child’s guardian. However, you need to provide for the possibility that the other parent may not be alive at the time of your death.
A guardian is legally responsible for your child’s physical care, health, education, and other daily needs until he or she reaches 18 years of age. Among the issues to consider in selecting a guardian:
Is the person willing to serve as guardian?
Does the person have a good relationship with your child or children?
Does the person share your values, ethics, spiritual beliefs, and morals?
While the guardian is not responsible to meet the child’s financial needs with his or her property, they are responsible for managing the child’s property. If you believe that the best person to raise your child is not the best person to handle finances, then you can name a separate person to manage the child’s finances (known as a “guardian of the property”). Another option is to create a testamentary trust to manage the child’s inheritance. In this case, the trustee manages the child’s finances.
You should discuss your decision in advance with the prospective guardian to ensure that they are willing to accept the responsibility. It is wise to name a backup guardian in case circumstances change and your first choice is unavailable.
While it’s heart wrenching to think about not being there to raise your children, imagine a court choosing their guardian without input from you. That's why it's important to nominate a guardian while it's still up to you.
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