Who will care for your children if something should happen to you? Generally, the answer is your child’s other parent. But who will raise your children if something happens to both of you? Many couples fear a family feud over custody of their children should they become orphaned. Your brothers, sisters, parents, or grandparents could all be fighting for custody. Others are concerned their children may be raised by someone who does not share the same values as the parents. Appointing a guardian can alleviate these concerns. So how do you nominate a guardian?

What is a Guardian?

A guardian is an individual appointed to care for your minor child if your child should become orphaned. Generally, a guardian will have the same powers and responsibilities as you do for your child. A guardian is primarily concerned with the physical care and the overall upbringing of your child. In some case, the guardian may also manage your child’s assets but this responsibility is usually delegated to a conservator.

What is a Conservator?

A conservator is an individual appointed by the court to manage your child’s assets should your child become orphaned. A conservator can receive and pay money on behalf of your child. It is common for the guardian and conservator of a child to be the same person, but sometimes they may be different people. A conservator generally files regular reports with the court regarding the child’s financial resources to ensure the assets are being properly managed

How to Name a Guardian for Your Child

It is extremely important for you to take the time to nominate a guardian and conservator for your children. If you do not make your own nominations, then a court will make its own appointments without considering your opinion or preference. Nominating a guardian and conservator is the only way your family and the court will know who you want to raise your children.

Nominating a guardian and conservator is easy. Provisions appointing your preferred guardian and conservator are usually made as part of your estate plan. The nomination can be made whether you have a Will or a Trust. Naming the person you want to raise your children can be the most important decision you make should tragedy strike.

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About the Author: Aaron R. Shahan is an attorney at Atlas Law, PLC. Aaron dedicates his practice to virtually all aspects of estate planning, elder law and probate.