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  • Northern Virginia Trusts & Estates

How to choose a guardian and how to assign their responsibilities

Naming guardians and assigning responsibilities

Most parents, especially those with small children, have thought about who they want to take care of their children if they were no longer able to do so. While it is not a pleasant thought, this issue is extremely important.

If you have yet to name the guardian for your child in an official legal document, it is important to do this promptly to ensure that your children are left in the care of a person that you trust with this significant responsibility.

If one parent becomes incapacitated, an official guardianship and trust is not necessary to ensure that the other parent retains guardianship and custody of the child or children. Under the laws of the United States and Virginia, this is the normal procedure for guardianship. For this reason, establishing who will function as the guardian of one’s children is generally a choice made by both parents for the unlikely situation in which both parents are unable to take care of their children.

Who should be named a guardian?

Deciding who will be the guardian of your child is a major decision. There are many important factors to weigh in this decision making process as this person will not only provide for your children materially but also make important choices regarding the child’s education and healthcare.

When considering a potential guardian, factors to consider include their age, their physical limitations, time limitations, if they have children near the age of your child, and if they share the beliefs that you have both in relation to child rearing and values.

Whomever you choose for this significant role, it is a good idea to discuss your selection with that individual so they have an opportunity to ask any questions or clarify any concerns. Also, you may want to choose both a guardian and an alternate for each of your children.

What are the guardian’s responsibilities?

This is an area that is often confusing to those selecting a guardian. The guardian is the person who will be responsible for the physical well being of your minor children.  He or she will make decisions with respect to many aspects of your children’s lives, including housing, education and medical care.  The guardian’s responsibilities do not, however, include management of your children’s financial assets or the control of any trust that you create, including any trusts of which your children beneficiaries.  Those responsibilities are handled by a trustee.

The person whom you designate as guardian does not need to be the same person designated as either trustee or executor.

Choosing a guardian is a significant decision. When you need help drafting the documents that will enforce this decision turn to the law firm you can trust and call Northern Virginia Trusts and Estates today.

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