For Parents of Minor Children, Appointing a Guardian is an Important Part of the Estate Planning Process

As a parent, one of your primary focuses during the estate planning process is likely to be ensuring that your children have the support and resources they need to live comfortably in your absence. While this predominantly involves structuring your estate to ensure that your children will have access to your wealth as and when you decide, if your children are minors, appointing a guardian will be an important part of the process as well.

What is a Guardian?

In both Ohio and Kentucky, a guardian is an individual who is responsible for caring for a child in the absence of the child’s parents. The guardian is responsible for the child’s health, safety, education, financial management and general upbringing. While the guardian has a significant amount of discretion in determining what is in a child’s best interests, there are limits on guardians’ authority under Ohio and Kentucky law; and, in their estate plan, parents can provide specific guidance as to how their chosen guardian is to raise their children.

Do I Need to Appoint a Guardian in My Estate Plan?

While appointing a guardian is not required, it is strongly recommended. If you do not appoint a guardian in your estate plan, one will need to be appointed through the probate process. Even if your family members all agree on who is best-suited to serve in the role of guardian (which will not necessarily be the case), the probate process takes time and presents the potential for a variety of conflicts and other issues.

When you appoint a guardian in your estate plan, your decision is binding, and your chosen guardian will be able to take custody of your children immediately. This approach is generally best for everyone involved; and, to be safe, it is generally best to name a “contingent” guardian (who will serve in the role if your first choice refuses or is unavailable) as well.

What Factors Should I Consider When Choosing a Guardian?

Choosing a guardian is a personal decision that requires careful consideration of a variety of different factors. Do you want to choose a sibling, grandparent or other relative? Or, do you have a close friend who would be better-suited to care for your children? Do you want to choose a guardian who lives in your hometown so that your children will not have to relocate? These are just a few of the questions you will need to answer.

Can I Provide Financial Support for My Chosen Guardian?

Yes, and in many circumstances this will be advisable. Oftentimes, parents will leave a lump sum to their chosen guardian for the purchase of car seats and furniture, moving expenses, and other costs the guardian will incur in taking responsibility for their children’s care. There are other options available as well, and attorney Jim Singler can help you make informed decisions about all aspects of appointing a guardian for your minor children.

Speak With Ohio and Kentucky Estate Planning Lawyer Jim Singler

If you would like more information about incorporating guardianship provisions into your estate plan, we invite you to contact us for a confidential initial consultation. To speak with attorney Jim Singler in confidence, please call 513-486-0000 or request an appointment online today.