A guardian is a person who is appointed to make legal decisions for someone who cannot. A guardian can be appointed to take care of children after their parents have died, or a guardian may be appointed to care for a disabled adult, for example.
If you are setting up an estate plan and have minor children, choosing your children's potential guardian is important. A guardian needs to be selected with the best interests of your child at heart. Courts generally like to see that the guardian is someone who has a relationship or familial ties to the ward. Some good options include:
- A private individual familiar with the child
- A person chosen by a close relative
- A person chosen by the child
Guardians have a few roles and responsibilities. For instance, guardians must:
- Look after the well-being of the child
- Provide legal residence to the ward so that they can go to a public school
- Apply for public housing for the ward when necessary
- Bring a lawsuit on behalf of the minor when necessary
- Apply for public assistance for the ward when warranted
Guardians are also put in charge of the money that the minor may receive. Guardians are required to maintain and account for any funds that are in excess of what they need to care for the minor. Usually, those funds are passed on to the ward once they reach 18 if they no longer need a guardian at that time.
If you'd like to appoint a guardian, reach out to your attorney. They can help you create the appropriate documents in your estate plan.