Caring for Children After Death: The Importance of Guardianships

When we talk about estate planning oftentimes we talk about assets like money, investments, and property. With so much talk of delegation and beneficiaries it can be hard to remember our greatest assets— our children.

As parents it’s our job to provide a safe, loving, nurturing home for your children.

But if you passed away tomorrow, where would your children have to go?

What is a guardianship

Guardianship is a legal term that grants a non-biological parent the right to care for the need of another person (referred to as a “ward”).

Oftentimes, when one parents dies, the other parent is the court’s first option to appoint as the guardian of a minor. However, if the other parent is deceased, ill, or suffers from addiction, they may not be the best person to look after that child.

It is in these cases when guardianships are granted.

A guardian is responsible for providing for the physical and emotional needs of a child. They are expected to provide shelter, food, clothing, education, and medical care (among other things).

Guardians can be family members such as grandparents or close relatives. Close family friends may also be appointed as guardians.

Whoever the court chooses to appoint as a guardian will be whoever it deems will provide the best care and support for a child.

However, courts may not always be privy to your personal preference and certain family dynamics.

If you pass away before your child becomes an adult, you can designate someone as the legal guardian of your child to care for them after you are gone. In this way, you are able to advocate for the benefit of your child.

Guardianships for Adult Children and Relatives

Guardianships don’t just apply to minors. Individuals who have reached the age of majority may still be eligible to be appointed a guardian in two situations:

  1. The individual is severely disabled mentally or physically
  2. The individual is an elder who requires extra care

Say you have an adult child who is physically unable to care for themselves due to a mental handicap. After they became an adult you were their primary caretaker, arranging medical appointments, housing, etc. for them.
After you death, your adult child will still need someone to take care of them.

In your will, you can appoint a guardian to make sure their needs are met.

If you have any questions about guardianships and estate planning, contact us today.

Published 12/30/2021.