Designate a Guardian for Your Child
The best way to make sure your children are well-cared for if you’re not there to take care of them yourself is to name a responsible, trustworthy friend or family member to serve as the children’s guardian. A guardianship designation not only ensures that your children would be in good hands, but can also prevent messy, public family disputes that can add to the difficult
y your children would experience during an extremely tragic time. Your guardianship designation should be included both in your will and in a separate standby-guardianship document. Because a will takes effect only upon death, the guardianship designation in that document is not sufficient if a guardian is needed as a result of your incapacity, for example, if you were unconscious from a car accident. A standby guardianship document allows the person designated therein to serve as guardian under certain circumstances. A standby-guardianship document also allows the named guardian to serve immediately, while the guardian named in your will can only legally serve after your will is probated and the court appoints the guardian named in the will. A standby guardianship document can fill the gap between the time of a parent’s death and the date the will is probated. What happens if no guardian has been named by a child’s parents? If more than one person requests to be the child’s guardian, a lengthy, public court battle could ensue. In the worst case scenario, the court could assign your children to state custody while the dispute is being resolved; courts have been known to do precisely that where guardianship is unclear. Because we aim to make sure your children have the best case possible, all of our plans include a will with a guardianship designation as well as documentation of your standby guardianship designation.