What is a Guardian?

A Guardian is tasked with the physical custody and care of a minor child, as well as the management of the child's financial affairs. Although courts must appoint or confirm Guardians, nominating one in advance allows the court to consider your preferences in its decision. This role is crucial in ensuring the well-being of your children should you be unable to care for them.

Learn more about guardianships: Understanding the Role of a Guardian

When is a Guardian appointed?

Typically, if a parent is unable or unavailable to care for a child, the other parent will take full responsibility. However, if both parents are unable or pass away, appointing a Guardian becomes necessary. Courts prioritize the child's best interests but usually give significant consideration to the parents' preferences. Understanding the dual aspects of guardianship—care of the person and management of the estate—is essential for making informed decisions about your child's future well-being.

Responsibilities of a Guardian

  • Physical Custody and Care (Guardian of the Person): This includes the day-to-day care of the child, such as providing food, clothing, and shelter, and making decisions related to healthcare, education, and residency.
  • Management of Financial Affairs (Guardian of the Estate): This involves handling the child's financial matters, including receiving and managing assets payable to the child, in a fiduciary capacity for the child's benefit. These funds could be used to cover the expenses of life, for example, clothing, food, education, or housing. 

Considerations When Choosing a Guardian 

Selecting a Guardian is a significant decision that should be made with careful consideration of several factors:

  • Financial Stability: Can the potential Guardian provide a stable financial environment?
  • Parenting Values: Will they raise your children according to your preferences?
  • Relationship with Children: How well do they know your children, and what is the nature of their relationship?
  • Living Situation: Where does the potential Guardian reside, and how will this impact your children?
  • Age Considerations: Consider the ages of the potential Guardian and your children, and how this might affect their care.
  • Other Children: Does the potential Guardian have their own children, and how might this affect their capacity to care for yours?

Don't Delay Choosing a Guardian

Delaying this decision can leave your children without a nominated Guardian in an emergency, forcing the court to decide without your input. We suggest that you:

  • Rank your top choices
  • For now, choose somebody as the Primary, and add your two backups
  • Change or swap out who you have designated at any time in the future

How to Add or Edit Guardians in Your Estate Plan

Click here or follow the instructions below:

    1. Navigate to the Summary section of your Estate Plan
    2. Scroll down to the 'Guardians' section
    3. Click on Edit to make your changes.
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