Making a will to appoint a Guardian for your children

My wife and I had our first child 4 years ago. A few months before she was born, I think we spent about 3 hours in babies r us, and probably 10 or more hours online and in books studying up on the safest carseat for her. If you’re a parent, then I assume you probably had a similar experience.  We all want to protect our kids and make sure they are as safe as possible.

Here’s the part no one likes to think about. What if something happens to us? Who will be there for the kids? Or, maybe you already thought about it and went and got some life insurance. That’s a step in the right direction, but there’s more.

Under the unpleasant circumstances of both natural parents deaths, there are two answers to the question of who will take care of the kids:

(1) your kids will be cared for by the Guardian(s) you appoint in your will, or

(2) the court will appoint a Guardian if you have not named one.

Regardless of the size of your estate, parents of minor children (under the age of 18) should have wills naming a Guardian or Guardians for their children.

In Pennsylvania, there are two types of Guardians for minors: (1) Guardian of the Person, and (2) Guardian of the Estate. Those two can be the same person serving as Guardian of the Person and Estate of the minor child.

The Guardian of the Person is the person that will make general decisions related to the care of the child. The Guardian of the Estate handles the money forming the Guardianship Estate for the child. Some people appoint the same person for both positions.

In the event of the deaths of both of the natural parents, failure to have appointed a Guardian by will makes a court proceeding necessary to determine who the Guardian of your children will be.

Family harmony and the best interests of the minor children are best preserved by appointing a Guardian or Guardians in your will as opposed to subjecting them to court proceedings.

Additional planning can provide even greater guidance and control over the management of money you leave for minor children by including a trust for the benefit of a minor child or children in your will.

Such a trust is generally known as a testamentary trust because it is created by your will at the time of your death. In such a situation, the trust is only funded upon the death of the individual who created it.

For more information on trusts for minors, I’ll be writing a new post soon titled “trusts for minor children.”

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