Naming a guardian for your child in your estate plan, should you pass away before your child is of legal age, is an important step in being a responsible parent. But you must ensure that you fully understand the legal considerations of this process before assigning someone to the role.
The Legal Process of Assigning a Guardian in Massachusetts
Designating a legal guardian in your will can prevent stress and legal headache in the event that you and your child’s other parent die or become incapacitated before your child turns 18. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 190B, §5-202 provides for a parent to appoint a guardian for a child and any other children they may have in the future.
Your attorney can help you appoint a legal guardian in writing while creating your will or other estate planning documents. The guardianship designation will need to be attested to by two witnesses.
What Will the Guardian’s Responsibilities Be?
In Massachusetts, the guardian of a minor has all of the same responsibilities and authorities as a parent. This person will be responsible for:
- Taking custody of your child
- Acting within your child’s interests
- Caring for your child emotionally, physically, and financially
- Using any financial resources that you have designated in your estate plan to care for your child’s needs
- Saving any excess financial resources for the child’s future needs
Your chosen guardian will be responsible for your child’s well-being, including their care, health, welfare, and education until they turn 18 years old. Naming a guardian for your child whom you know well and fully trust is important to protect your child’s future.
Creating a Financial Plan for Your Child
Once you select a guardian to care for your child in the event of your death, you should also take time to set up a financial plan for your child. Your attorney can help you create a trust that would automatically transfer assets to your child or to your choice of guardian at your death. Your beneficiary would have immediate access to the trust funds without needing to go through probate.
Your financial plan can be as detailed or as generalized as you’d like. You can set aside a certain amount of money for your child’s education, hobbies, medical costs, and more. The more detail you include, the greater confidence you can have that your designated guardian will care for your child according to your wishes.
What Happens If You Don’t Name a Guardian?
If you pass away without an appointment of guardianship in place, the court will appoint a family member to raise your child. This designation may not reflect your wishes for your child, which is why naming a guardian for your child as soon as possible is vital.
Work with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney in Massachusetts
Partnering with a knowledgeable attorney can make the process of naming a guardian for your child stress-free. For more information about the legal considerations of guardianship in Massachusetts, or to set up an estate planning meeting at our office in Danvers, MA, call Jordan & White, LLC, today at 978-744-2811.