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It’s considered morbid to think about dying before your children reach adulthood. No parent wants to miss out on watching their little ones grow up, let alone have to determine who is worthy to step in and raise them how they would. Choosing a Guardian as part of a Will can feel daunting, and it sometimes holds parents back from even creating important estate plan documents. To help parents make this tough decision, read on for tips on how to choose a Guardian.
Should you pass away, and your child has no surviving natural parent, the Court will decide placement for children under the age of 18. Through a Guardianship proceeding, the Court will evaluate many factors to determine Guardianship. While you should create a Will and nominate a Guardian, please be aware that the Court will consider your nomination but there is not guarantee the person(s) you name will be selected.
The goal of the Court is to make the best decision for the child and it’s important they know your wishes.
As noted above, the Court makes a Guardianship decision when no biological or adopted parents are in place. For parents who are separated or divorced, your ex-partner will retain custody of your child(ren) should you pass away. These are default rights, unless parental rights have been terminated.
As you determine whom may assume guardianship of your minor child(ren), consider the following:
Having to choose a Guardian is hard. To discuss this and other important choices, like choosing an Executor and choosing a Trustee, please speak with an Estate attorney.
Attorney R. Nicholas Nanovic is an Accredited Estate Planner®, serving as chair of Gross McGinley’s Estates and Tax Law teams.