How Can I Name a Guardian for my Minor Children?

 A major concern most people have when estate planning is what may happen to their minor children if they were to pass away. Who will take care of them, both mentally and financially? It is rightfully a concern and should be planned for in advance in case a tragedy takes place. Estate planning is the opportunity to provide for your family upon your passing and to make sure the right people are named to administer your assets and take care of your children. A person nominated by you in a Will to raise your children if you are unable to is known as a Guardian. A Guardian of a minor child is nominated in a Will and affirmed by a Court.

Why Should I Name a Guardian of My Minor Children in a Will?

 It is important that you name a person to act as a Guardian of your minor children in your Will so that your wishes are known. A Court gives great deference to a person’s nomination if made in a Will. Your named Guardian is likely to be appointed Guardian of your minor children if you name him/her in your Will. If you do not name a Guardian in your Will or you don’t have a Will at all, the Court will not know your wishes and will try to determine who it should appoint as Guardian based on who steps forward to become Guardian. You can imagine that the people stepping forward to raise your children in the event that you cannot raise them yourself may not be the people you actually want to raise your children.

Who Can I Name as a Guardian of my Minor Children?

You can name anyone Guardian of your minor children, but in order to act the nominee must be competent, 18 years or older, a legal resident of the United States, and cannot have been convicted of any serious crimes (particularly violent crimes and crimes against children). If the Court determines it is in the best interests of your children that your nominee should be Guardian, the Court will affirm your nominee. But if the Court deems your nominee unfit to serve as Guardian of your minor children then the Court has the discretion to reject your nominee and appoint another person to act as Guardian. The Court will still give preference to close family members where possible.

What Authority Does a Guardian Have?

 There are two types of Guardians, Guardians of the Person and Guardians of the Estate. Guardians of the Person can make personal decisions for the child, such as how to raise the child, school placement, healthcare decisions, and so on.  A Guardian of the Estate handles the child’s money, if any. Often the two roles are fulfilled by one person acting as Plenary Guardian. But this does not need to be the case and the roles can be bifurcated if the Court deems it in the child’s best interests. It is important to note that the Guardian must periodically report to the Court on the child’s well-being.

A Guardian of a minor child has wide discretion but should always act in the child’s best interests. This is an ill-defined term, as reasonable human beings can have differing opinions on how to raise a child. But of course, there are minimum standards that must be followed to provide for the health and mental well-being of the child. If the Court determines that the Guardian is not fulfilling his/her obligations the Court can revoke the Guardianship and appoint another person to be Guardian instead.

Contact the Lake County Guardianship Attorneys at Johnston Tomei Lenczycki & Goldberg LLC Today

 If you want to name potential Guardians of your minor children in the event of your death then it is important to have a Will drafted by an estate planning attorney such as the attorneys at Johnston Tomei Lenczycki & Goldberg LLC. We offer a no charge initial consultation to discuss your Will and Trust desires. We offer flat-fee pricing for estate plans. If you want to have your Will created and name Guardians of your minor children, call Johnston Tomei Lenczycki & Goldberg LLC today at (847) 596-7494 to speak with a Lake County estate planning attorney.



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