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Helping You Navigate Complex Legal Issues

Addressing the guardianship of children in wills

Gregory A. Lang

One of the most important issues that Hennepin residents should address in their wills is that of the guardianship of their children. The purpose of wills and estate planning in general is to allow people to maintain some degree of control over their affairs after they die. Just as is the case with their property and assets, those who fail to name guardians for their children in a will risk forfeiting that right.

According to the website for the Attorney General of Minnesota, the court assumes the role of appointing a guardian for children if their parents die without naming one. In most cases, the first people to be considered as guardians are grandparents. Indeed, a 2009 study on the living arrangements of children by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that of the participants who lived with neither of their parents, 59 percent lived with grandparents. If the children have no surviving grandparents, relatives will then be considered, followed by other parties qualified by the court.

However, even when there are grandparents and other relatives still living, disputes may still arise over who is best suited to care for the children. It is to avoid such stress that people are strongly recommended to name a guardian in their wills.

When considering who should be their children’s guardian, parents should consider the following factors:

  •          Does the potential guardian have the time and resources to raise the children?
  •          Have they allocated assets in their will to help pay for their children’s care?
  •          Would the children have to be uprooted to live with the guardian?

Finding a potential guardian who can meet the best interests of one’s children may not be an easy task. However, eliminating the uncertainty that can come from not naming one makes the effort to do so worth it. 

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