How to Designate a Guardian in Your Will

A child is considered a minor until he or she reaches age 18, at which point they are considered an adult and are capable of making legal decisions on their own. In the event that you have a minor child under the age of 18, naming a guardian in your will is one way to ensure that your child is cared for by a person that you trust and someone who is capable of serving in this role in the event that something happens to you and the other parent prior to the child reaching adulthood.

Reviewing or determining your choices for guardian of your minor child is an important step in your estate planning process. A guardian is an individual to whom the official legal care of your child is transferred if both parents pass away.

Naming a guardian in your will is a crucial act and is not one that is meant to be only sentimental. You are making a legal decision about the party who will care for your child as if they were that child’s parent until your child is no longer a minor. Guardians perform all duties of a parent, including decisions about a child’s religious teachings, medical care, education and upbringing, so it is critical that you choose someone with whom the child ideally has some form of relationship and a person who you trust to care for your minor child in this way.

In the event that if the individual named in your will is not the child’s surviving parent, the wishes could be overwritten in court and custody may be offered to the remaining parent in the event that the judge feels it is the best circumstance for your child. Decisions relating to guardianship when it is contested in this type of manner could lead to additional challenges in court.

Courts are instructed to make decisions regarding minor children in the best interests of the child in which they will consider numerous factors in arriving at this decision. To ensure there’s a plan for your family, work with an estate planning attorney in New Hampshire.  


Reasons to Name a Guardian for Your Minor Children

In general, there are two parents who are able and willing to serve and care for their children and if one passes away, the other one by default take over physical custody in addition to responsibility for caring for the child. A minor guardian should be appointed in your estate planning documents to step into such an important role.

In many states across the US, the surviving parent can also be given the authority through a court to manage any property that the deceased parent left behind to the children.

The exception to this is when that deceased parent has left specific property management transfer plans inside a will. If both parents of the minor child pass away, however, and there is no ready fall back plan in the form of a will with an established guardian, the court is responsible for deciding who will be the guardian of the children.

The person that you name in your will is then appointed by the court to act as a surrogate parent for your minor children if the court agrees that your choice is in the best interests of the children and there are no surviving adoptive or biological parents currently able to properly care for the children.

When both parents craft their will, it’s a good idea to name the other person. Each of them should name the same person as a guardian for each child. This decreases the possibility of estate planning or probate related conflicts and can make things easier for your children during the sudden loss of their parents. Rely on the services of an experienced estate planning lawyer in NH to accomplish your goals.