Naming a Guardian for My Children

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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We do not want to imagine that anything might happen that will leave our children without a parent. As difficult as it is to think about, no function of your will is more important than naming a guardian for your minor children; and nothing can be harder than picking that guardian. But if you don’t do it, the courts will.

The person you nominate should be someone in whom you have complete confidence. First, be sure he or she is willing to accept the responsibility of raising your children should the need arise. The guardian you choose will be responsible for your children’s physical care, health, education and welfare until they reach 18 years of age. This naturally includes the provision of basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter, and making health care decisions and education choices. Equally as important, it includes love and affection, and social and emotional guidance. The person you select as guardian should have good parenting skills and values similar to your own. Family members or dependable friends may be good options. Someone your children know and can trust would be a good choice.

A guardian is not paid for his or her services, but is not responsible for meeting your children’s financial needs with his or her own money. Money dedicated for that purpose is set aside in your estate and is usually handled by a trustee.

Once you decide on a guardian, your will will provide you with peace of mind. Naming a guardian in your will ensures that you make the choice of who will assume that important role, not the courts.

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