A Guardian is someone appointed to be responsible for a minor. Typically, if one parent dies or is unable to care for a minor child, then the other parent assumes sole responsibility. If both parents pass, or if neither parent is able to care for the minor child, it may be necessary to appoint a Guardian.
Typically, a Guardian must be appointed or confirmed by a court. Courts look at the best interests of the minor, but usually give significant weight to the preferences of parents who appoint a Guardian.
The responsibilities of a Guardian generally fall into two major categories:
- Physical custody and care (Guardian of the Person)
- Management of financial affairs (Guardian of the Estate)
The Guardian of the Person might be responsible for the physical care and custody of the minor. This includes clothing, feeding, and caring for the minor. A Guardian of the Person may also be responsible for making personal decisions for the minor, including decisions related to healthcare, education, and residency.
The Guardian of the Estate or Property may be responsible for managing the financial affairs of the minor. This generally includes receiving, holding, and managing assets that would otherwise be payable directly to the minor. A Guardian of the Estate would hold these assets in a fiduciary capacity to be used for for the benefit of the minor. For example, these funds could be used to cover the expenses of life, ranging from clothing and food to education and housing.