Putting together an estate plan? Don’t forget a guardianship

When you are getting your estate plan put together, one thing you should include is the guardian for any minors in your care. If you have a child, you should designate a person as a guardian, so that they will have someone to take care of them in the case that both you and their other parent pass away before they’re adults.

Not choosing a guardian yourself doesn’t mean one won’t be appointed if you pass away. However, you’ll have no control over who that person is. In fact, a judge will decide which of your relatives or friends should take over caring for your child. You will have no guarantee that the person chosen is the right person to care for your child, even though the judge’s intentions will be to place them in the best possible home.

What happens if you do appoint a guardian in your will and estate plan?

If you do choose a guardian, then the judge will have to appoint them. Generally, a judge will do what you’ve asked, but there are cases when they may stray from what you’ve asked for. For example, if you name a guardian who is not your ex-spouse, but your ex-spouse wants custody of your child, then a judge usually presumes that the other parent will take over custody. Unless there are significant reasons not to allow that, your wishes might be overruled.

That’s something to discuss with your attorney if there is any reason why you would not want your child’s other parent to take over custody. They may be able to help you seek a guardian who can take over custody at least part of the time.