Friday, August 21, 2009

Why Should A Parent Name A Guardian For Minor Children?

The Wall Street Journal's blog has an article entitled "Michael Jackson's Kids: The Tough Task Of Naming A Guardian." As noted in the WSJ blog, the press surrounding the guardianship of Michael Jackson's children has highlighted an important family planning issue: "every parent should name a guardian, in writing, for their children, in case the unthinkable should happen."

To view the article, go to:

What is a guardian? A guardian is an individual, typically a family member or close friend, who can handle the responsibility of raising your child if you and your spouse (or ex-spouse) die or become severely incapacitated before your kids reach adulthood.

What is a Nomination of Guardians? If a person or couple has minor children it is very important to prepare a Nomination of Guardians to serve if both parents are deceased or incapacitated. A court proceeding in the Family Law court is required to formally approve a guardian but the court affords the written nomination of the parents great weight in making its decision. Guardianship is a court proceeding in which a judge gives someone who is not the parent: custody of a child, or the power to manage the child's property (called "estate"), or both.

Naming a guardian is a difficult but necessary estate planning tool. As demonstrated by the Jackson case, it is also a task that should be revisited on a periodic basis. Naming a guardian is an easy project to put off since for those of us with children it is practically unfathomable that we will not be alive or fully functioning while our children are under the age of 18. However, it is our experience that the estate planning and guardian nomination process gives parents peace of mind reagrding their children's future.

Having a pre-executed Nomination of Guardians can also help avoid a "tug of war" between well-meaning family members. A properly drafted Trust will also provide for the management of your estate until such time as you deem your child is mature enough to receive a distribution.

Posted by Henry Moravec, III. Any questions or comments should be directed to: hm@moravecslaw.com or (626) 793-3210. The firm website is http://www.moravecslaw.com/