It’s tough to think about—who will take care of your young kids if something were to happen to you tomorrow? While you might be tempted to banish these thoughts, your sudden absence from your kids’ lives is far better to prepare for than the alternative. To wade into these waters, you’ll need to know a thing or two about guardianship in California. This blog will hit the high points so you know what your kids might face.
Naming Guardians For Your Children
The birth of a child is a major life event that spurs many young parents to create an estate plan. One of the main functions of a Last Will and Testament is to name guardians to take control over your minor children if you suddenly pass away. If you do not have a Will, you may use a Designation of Guardian to make your preferences known. While courts have the last word on naming guardians for minor children, making your preferences known in your estate plan will go a long way in the eyes of a California Superior Court.
What Situations Warrant a Guardian for Minor Children?
A guardian needs to take custody of a minor when the biological or adoptive parents are unable to care for the child. To give a few examples, this can occur if the current parent:
Let’s say you are divorced and co-parent your minor children. Even if you have sole physical AND legal custody, the non-custodial parent will likely have priority over guardianship for your kids.
Filing for Guardianship
If you feel it is appropriate for you to be granted guardianship over someone else’s minor children, you must begin by filing a number of forms with the Superior Court in the appropriate county. It’s important to consult with an experienced family law attorney so you ensure all the formalities are followed and you don’t leave out any information.
After filing for guardianship and serving notice on any relevant parties, there will likely be an investigation by the court. The investigation, among other things, consists of interviews with you and the minor children and a visit to the home where the children would be living. The investigator will make a recommendation to the judge. At the court hearing, the judge will make a determination on guardianship.
Guardianship of the Estate
In many cases, guardians of minor children are also considered guardians of those children’s estates (income and other assets). This often comes into play when parents pass away and leave their minor children large inheritances of property. The guardian of the estate must responsibly manage minor children’s estates until the children turn 18. The guardian of the estate could be one and the same as the guardian of the person. In other cases, one adult cares for the minor children while another adult manages assets.
Make a Plan For Your Children
You and your spouse are young and healthy. Why should estate planning be on your radar? For one thing, tomorrow is never guaranteed. This is more salient than ever due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The momentary discomfort of making an estate plan is much more preferable than someone you don’t want raising your children getting named as a guardian.
Anthoor Law Group would be happy to work with you to make sure your children are taken care of in your absence. Our firm wants to help you take control of your future. Ready to get started? Call us at 510-794-2887 to set up a consultation.
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