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Guardianships for minor children: an important aspect of estate planning, P.2

In our previous post, we began looking at the topic of minor guardianships. As we noted, selecting a guardian or guardians for minor children is an important aspect of estate planning, and for many it is the careful decision they will make in their will.

When you select a guardian for your children, you want to make sure you do your homework, consider all the options, and make a decision that works well for your children and your family. Here we'll look at some things to keep in mind when selecting a guardian.

Among the considerations to keep in mind when making a guardian selection are that the guardian must be a legal adult. You should ensure that the person desires to serve as your children's guardian, that they have a positive relationship with your children, they share your family values regarding the raising of children, and that they understand any specific financial arrangements between them and the child, as well as any matters of inheritance.

Financial arrangements will vary from family to family, but it is often smart to set up a trust for the benefit of minor children, and to name somebody other the guardian to serve as the trustee. The trustee will be in charge of any property in the trust, whereas a guardian will be in charge of money left to a minor named in the will.

What this means is that an estate plan should have at least one guardian if there are minor children, though there may be more. Several guardians may be selected, however, depending on the needs of the family and children.

Another thing to keep in mind regarding guardian selection is that guardians who are appointed through a will do not need to go through a court proceeding. Typically, only a signature is require to confirm acceptance of the Guardianship through ha County Surrogate Office.

One final thought: selecting a guardian or guardians is important not only to ensure your children are cared for when you die, but also to give yourself peace of mind.

Source: nj.com, "Your Legal Corner: Children and inheritance," Victoria M. Dalton, January 22, 2012.

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