Reasons for choosing a Guardian of the Person
If you do not name a guardian for minor children in your will, the court will determine who should get custody over your children, usually a relative. Various members of the same family may have very different views on how to raise children and the relative who might be mandated by law to become guardian in the absence of a will may not have the means or proper environment to make a good home for a child. By naming a guardian in your will you can control who will raise your child if you should die.
Duties of a Guardian of the Person
A Guardian of the Person is responsible for and may make decisions about the following issues:
- Residence: The guardian may determine where the child lives based on a location that is in the best interest of the child. To move the child out of state, the guardian may need a court's permission, depending on state laws.
- Education: The guardian is responsible for choosing the child’s schools, being active in the child's education, and helping the child set and achieve educational goals.
- Medical care: The guardian is responsible for basic medical, dental, and mental health treatments for the child. In many states, after a child turns 14, the child must agree to certain treatments before receiving them, such as surgery.
A child’s guardian is also responsible for the child’s environment, including the values, religious beliefs, lifestyle, and parenting style that the child is exposed to.
Naming a Guardian of the Person for dependent adults
If you are the parent or guardian of a dependent adult, you will want to name a Guardian of the Person for him or her in your will.
Duties of a Guardian of Guardian of the Person before a death has occurred
There are no legal responsibilities of a Guardian of the Person before a death has occurred, though it may be a good idea to foster the relationship between the person you're naming as Guardian of the Person and your child.
For advice on how to choose a Guardian of the Person, see our article How to Choose a Guardian of the Person.