Guardians—What You Don't Expect When You're Expecting

Image of a mom and baby. Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash.

As with most adventures in life, we rarely plan for the end while we’re at the beginning, but every parent (new or seasoned) has the responsibility to choose someone to care for their minor children if they are no longer able to do it themselves. In California, this person is called a Guardian, and the nomination of a Guardian is appropriately included in your Will.

The first thing to consider is who you would want to take the responsibility of caring for your child if you are no longer able to do it. Some factors to consider in making this choice are the person’s core values and religious beliefs, their geographic location and their familiarity with your child. Although your choice of Guardian does not have to be a family member, many customers choose family members because their beliefs coincide well and they are generally pretty familiar with their minor children. Geography comes into play when your nominated Guardian might have to move to your town or have your children move to theirs in order to properly care for them.

California Trusts Online allows you to nominate a Guardian in your Will. The person nominated would act both as the Guardian of your child’s estate and of your child’s person, meaning that the Guardian would both manage and disperse your child’s finances as well as live with your minor child and who oversees your child’s daily routines.

While you may nominate someone to act as your child’s Guardian, that person has no authority to act as the Guardian until approved by a judge. Generally speaking, both parents have the right to nominate a Guardian for their child, but the nomination of the second parent to die will govern assuming both parents have full parental rights. When one parent dies, the surviving parent automatically becomes solely responsible for the child unless the surviving parent has lost parental rights. Only when there is no one living with parental rights will a judge appoint a Guardian. At that point, the judge will consider the guardianship nomination of the second parent to die.

So, whether you are a new parent or your kids are teenagers, nominating a Guardian in your Will to care for them when you can no longer do it is the smart and responsible choice.

Are you ready to begin your estate plan and nominate a Guardian for your children? Click here to begin your questionnaire today.