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What is guardianship? Guardianship is the legal authority to make decisions for another person, generally an assigned adult(s) for a minor. A guardian is appointed by the court to make decisions for the protected party or protected person. If a child’s parents have passed away and left them an inheritance, guardianship allows the guardian to take on the parenting role for the protected party. A guardianship can be assigned to godparents, grandparents, or someone else the parents had previously selected.
There are two types of guardianship: guardianship of the protected person and guardianship of the estate. Guardianship over a person grants the guardian the right to make life decisions for the person or minor regarding residence, healthcare, medication, education, employment, etc. A guardian appointed over an estate grants the guardian the right to make financial decisions, pay bills, manage financial decisions, or hire healthcare assistance when necessary.
When parents make estate plans, they usually choose a guardian for their child(ren) in the event that they have a guardian to take care of them until they are legal adults. It is an important decision to make, especially if a child has special needs or a lifelong illness. In most cases, grandparents can be ideal guardians. They know your child(ren), they are family, and they may even help with babysitting or other needs currently. While grandparents are a good option, they do not need to be the only option. Grandparents may be older and have their own healthcare needs and may only be able to provide for your child(ren) for so many years. It is important to consider the future and what happens when your child(ren) grow up and graduate from high school or even need assistance with applying to colleges or other financial needs. Assigning godparents (or a legal guardian) might be a better option, especially if the child(ren) have a disability or other special needs. Guardianship is also appropriate when the protected party (the minor) has received significant funds from an estate, inheritance, or major lawsuit.
Selecting the proper assigned guardian is not an easy task, but it is essential to consider all varying factors before making a final decision.