Who Will Raise My Child if I Die without Naming a Guardian?
There are so many compelling reasons to have a comprehensive
estate plan. But for parents, none is
more compelling than naming a guardian to care for your children in the event
of your death. So what happens if you
die without formally naming a guardian for your child?
The court will select someone for you. Courts make these decisions by weighing
factors that are “in the best interest of the child.” But it’s important to remember that the judge,
who knows nothing about you, your child, or your family, will ultimately make
the decision without knowing what you would have preferred. You should not assume that the judge will
automatically appoint your parents, or your sister. Anyone can ask the judge to be considered,
and the court will ultimately appoint the person it feels is most suitable.
If you have appointed a guardian for your children in your
estate planning documents, the judge will still have to appoint the guardian in
a court proceeding. But he/she will be
far more likely to go along with the guardian you have designated. If you are divorced, the judge will most
likely appoint the surviving parent.
However, the judge will appreciate having any information about the
suitability of any particular person he/she may be considering.