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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Saturday, October 31, 2020

How to Choose a Legal Guardian For Your Child in California

Choosing a legal guardian for your child is one of the most important decisions you must make during estate planning. It is not a decision your California estate planning lawyer can make for you. It is a decision that you must make based on the needs of your child and your preference for someone to raise your child should you and your child’s other parent become incapacitated or die.

How Do You Name a Guardian for Your Child?

The easiest way to name a guardian for your child is to include the person in your will. However, if you do not have a will, the court chooses a guardian for your child.

Your child’s guardian assumes the role of a parent with legal custody. The guardian makes all decisions regarding the care of the child, including decisions related to education, religion, health, living arrangements, and activities. The guardian also manages the child’s inheritance under the supervision of the court.

A parent can leave a child’s inheritance in a trust to be administered by a trustee. Leaving the inheritance in trust gives the parents more control over how the inheritance is used. There are several ways to provide for the financial needs of your child if you do not wish the guardian to have control over your child’s inheritance.

Three Things to Consider When Choosing a Guardian for Your Child

Choosing a guardian is a matter of personal preference. Who do you want to raise your child if you cannot do so? However, there are three things that you may want to consider to help you make the decision.

1. Ability and Willingness to Serve

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a guardian for your child is whether the person you choose can care for your child. Depending on your child’s age, the age and health of the guardian are important considerations.

Grandparents are often a logical choice, especially if the grandparents have been involved in the child’s life. However, if grandparents are elderly and not in good health, they may not make the best choice for guardians.

Make sure to talk with the potential guardians to ensure they are willing to serve. Someone may love your child unconditionally, but they may not be willing to accept the responsibility of raising your child.

2. Parenting Styles and Beliefs

You may want to choose someone who shares a similar parenting style. Your child may have an easier transition if the rules and expectations are similar to your home.

Also, most parents have strong beliefs about education, politics, religion, and discipline. Choosing a guardian who shares your beliefs can help ensure that your child is raised in a home with the values and beliefs that you approve.

3. The Guardian’s Family

Whether a guardian is married and has children is another consideration when choosing a guardian. How will your child fit into the guardian’s family? Will your child transition from being an only child to a sibling? Does the guardian intend to marry and have a family in the future? Extended family is also a factor. Will your child be exposed to extended family members that make you uncomfortable?

Contact a California Estate Planning Lawyer for Help

A California estate planning lawyer can help you identify your goals and desires for choosing a guardian for your child. An attorney can draft the legal documents to ensure that your wishes are carried out once you make your decision. Contact a qualified California estate planning attorney today. Working with a lawyer can help ensure that your child is safe and cared for if you are unable to do so.


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