Many people take the time to name a guardian for their minor child, but they often do not think about the possibility of something happening to that guardian. While it is important to appoint a guardian for your children, it is important to have a plan in place if the guardian you have named for your child passes away before you do or cannot fulfill the role when the time comes. This is because they can no longer serve as a potential guardian, and someone else will need to step in instead. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you name a backup guardian for “just in case” purposes. This article will explain more about selecting a guardian backup and why it is important.
Minor Guardianships and Estate Planning
After parents have brought a child into the world and are thinking about their future, one of the most important steps they can take when planning their estate is deciding who could properly care for their children if either or both parents die or cannot care for them themselves. This usually requires a lot of thinking and conversations with one another. However, sometimes parents forget to think about if something could also happen to the guardian they have chosen.
What if your named guardian dies before you do, or is unable to care for your child? To prepare for the unexpected, protect your child’s future and provide Peace Of Mind, it is smart and highly recommended to name a backup guardian for your minor children in your will. Naming several backup guardians guarantees your children will be protected, no matter what unexpected events occur.
How To Decide Who Your Child’s Guardian and Backup Guardian Will Be
There are not many requirements to appoint someone as a child’s guardian, or backup guardian other than the individual must be at least 18 years or older. However, there are many factors that parents must think about when making a decision.
South Florida Estate Planning Attorney Barry Siegel explains,
“Planning who the Guardian would be ahead of time allows the couple to consider who they trust to raise their children. They should take into account the maturity of the Guardian and the location and proximity to the children’s current place of residence. Religious beliefs, morals, and financial situations can also be factors. Parents should name the same guardian in each of their Wills, so there is no confusion and ensure the selected people would be willing to fill those roles if necessary.”
Although choosing someone in your life who you trust to take care of your children may sound simple, the truth is that it can be a very difficult decision that both parents may have a hard time agreeing on. Therefore, why we recommend taking a few steps to help you both decide, including the following:
- Think about who you should nominate as your child’s guardian and backup guardian.
This is not an easy and quick decision, as these individuals could be in charge of your child’s future educational, medical, and personal decisions. Set aside time to think, write down qualities, and decide who would be the best fit.
- Talk and discuss with potential guardians and backup guardians.
While you can appoint individuals to be your child’s guardian and backup guardians, you should make sure they would take the opportunity if given to them. It is a big responsibility, so it should be something that they agree to and are aware of.
- Get it in writing.
Once you both have decided, you must get it in writing to ensure that it will be legally recognized if you pass away. Name a guardian and a couple of backup guardians, and write a letter of intent as guidance for the potential guardian.
What Exactly Does A Guardian Do?
There are always unforeseen circumstances that happen in life, which is why you should always prepare. The thought of something possibly happening to you or your spouse is important to your family, and you may be wondering what the individual who is appointed guardian will be able to do for your children when you are no longer here or are temporarily unable to care for your children. Here are some of the duties that a guardian will be responsible for when it comes to your minor child:
- Providing support, care and education
- Giving clothing, food, shelter and all necessities
- Managing medical, psychological, dental and surgical care
What If You Don’t Name A Guardian?
If you haven’t named a legal guardian before you die or if you are unable to raise your child due to illness or some other unexpected circumstance, the court will choose who will care for your children – and that could be someone you would not want to raise your child. That said, you should take action quickly and carefully to ensure that your child is taken care of if anything ever happens to you. Keep in mind that reviewing and updating your Estate Plan and Will every 3-5 years is also good practice. This allows you to re-evaluate, change your mind, and name a new guardian, or if your original choice is no longer available, you can choose another guardian for your children.
Call THE South Florida Estate Planning Attorney – Barry Siegel
If you need assistance with Estate Planning or appointing a guardian or backup guardian for your child, The Siegel Law Group will be glad to help you with this. Our team is educated and experienced regarding the laws surrounding these issues, and we will help you navigate the process. Call our office at 561-576-6206 or submit our online contact form to schedule a complimentary consultation. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.