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Why You Should Include Guardianships in Your Estate Plan

If you are a parent of young children, naming a guardian should be a vital part of your estate planning. A guardian is an adult who will take care of your children and their property if you cannot. As difficult as it may be to think of your children growing up without you, selecting a guardian is the best way to ensure they will be raised by someone you trust.

In California, a court ultimately decides who will act as the guardian of your children if there is no surviving parent. However, if you specify a preferred guardian in your will or other estate planning document, the court is likely to approve your choice as long as the potential guardian is mentally and physically stable, financially sound and dedicated to protecting the best interests of your children. On the other hand, if you neglect to name a guardian, the decision made by the court may be in conflict with your wishes.

In the state of California, there are two different types of guardians:

  • Guardian of the person — This is an adult who will take physical custody of your children and be responsible for providing basic needs like shelter, food and education.
  • Guardian of the estate — This is an individual who will manage your children’s inheritance and use it for their benefit until they turn 18.

You may designate the same individual to act as guardian of the person and guardian of the estate, or you may pick different people. Here are some questions to consider when choosing the best candidates for these two roles:

For the guardian of the person:

  • Do you trust this individual to follow your wishes?
  • Are you comfortable with their values?
  • Do they live locally, or will your children need to move?
  • Are they willing and able to care for your children, and is this likely to change?

For the guardian of the estate:

  • Do you trust this individual to follow your wishes?
  • Are they proficient at managing money and staying organized?
  • Are they trustworthy when it comes to deadlines and monetary obligations?

Because whoever you choose will be preferable to an individual the court appoints without your input, make sure you name a guardian or guardians as soon as possible. A knowledgeable guardianship attorney can help you understand your options, propose solutions and make other recommendations to ensure your wishes are honored and your children are cared for.

At The Sterling Law Group, A P.C., our lawyers can help you protect your loved ones with a comprehensive estate plan. From our offices in Roseville and Sacramento, we are currently offering video appointments and conference calls. To schedule a session with an estate planning attorney, call 916-790-9202 or contact us online.

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  • Roseville Office
    300 Harding Boulevard
    Suite 205
    Roseville, California 95678
    Phone: 916-790-0852
    Fax: 916-760-2701
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    Sacramento, California 95814
    Phone: 916-790-0852
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