The Role of My Child’s Guardian

As you are creating your estate plan, appointment of guardianship for your child or children may be one of the things you wish to include. If you have children, it is important that you choose a trusted family member or individual to serve as their legal guardian in the event of your incapacitation or passing. Here are key things to know about the role of a guardian for minors. 

Who Should I Choose as a Guardian? 

When you are designating a guardian for your child, you should choose a family member or close friend that you trust to make the best decisions that align with your wishes. Important factors to reflect on include your personal values, religion, and style of parenting. You are not obligated to pick blood relatives as guardians, but you should choose a guardian based on factors, such as:

  • Age (guardians must be at least 18 years old)
  • Physical and mental health
  • Career or lifestyle
  • Schedule or time commitment
  • Financial stability
  • Ability or desire to care for your child
  • Responsibilities towards other children

You can choose to appoint godparents or married couples as your child’s legal guardians. Some people choose to appoint a secondary or alternate guardian if the first guardian they choose is deceased or unable to fulfill the role. 

If you have children from different marriages or relationships, you also have the option of appointing a guardian for each child. This is recommended especially if your children reside in separate locations.

What Are a Guardian’s Responsibilities? 

A guardian who is appointed to care for your child has a number of responsibilities. They are legally authorized to make important decisions in the child’s life. A description of a guardian’s basic duties includes:

  • Provide day-to-day care, protection and support
  • Provide food, clothing, and shelter
  • Authorize medical care and treatment
  • Ensure the child is educated and/or trained for a job

While a guardian has many powers concerning the care of your child, there are limits to what they can legally do. A court order is required to approve decisions on things such as the child’s finances, state of residence, and the terms of the guardianship. A top estate planning lawyer can give you a detailed explanation about what a guardian can and cannot do. 

Guardian designation is an important decision that should be carefully considered. If you have any questions about choosing a guardian for your child or the process of appointing a guardian, it is best to speak to a trusted lawyer about your situation.