How To Arrange For Guardianship Of Your Children After Your Death

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Dying and leaving behind minor children is something no one wants to consider. However, the consequences of not making guardianship plans can have long term, devastating consequences. Should you pass away without appointing a guardian, your child may be sent into foster care and an uncertain future. The parent who gives some time to contemplating guardianship will experience peace of mind in the event of a tragic accident or illness.

Choosing a Guardian

The deceased parent who leaves behind a surviving spouse can usually rely on them to care for minor children. However, if both parents pass away or if one has abandoned the children, it's important for the custodial parents to choose a guardian. Careful consideration should be given to family members and longtime friends. Many parents looking for a guardian consider the candidate's religious views, opinions about education and whether or not they would be willing to accept the responsibility. Once a selection is made, it's vital to discuss it with the person who may raise your children. Make certain they understand the responsibility they would be assuming and that they are willing to do so.

Create a Will

Perhaps the best way to appoint a guardian in a legally binding manner is by placing it in a will. With the assistance of an attorney specializing in wills and estates, it should be little trouble to identify the appropriate guardian and make any other necessary arrangements for the care of the child. Wills can incorporate a great deal of detail about how you would like your child to be raised, and this can be a useful guide for the guardian. Schedule a meeting that includes you, the guardian and the attorney to go over the details of the will.

Going to Court

In the event of your death, a judge may be required to review the details of your will, particularly if someone else challenges some portion of it. One of the items that may be challenged is your choice of guardian. Most judges are willing to abide by your wishes as they are stipulated in your will. However, your choice may be subject to scrutiny. Although it is unlikely, the judge may decide against the guardian you chose in favor of someone else. Such cases are extremely rare, and if you appoint a guardian with the help of an attorney, there is little chance of this happening.

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