What Does A Guardian of the Estate Do?

A Guardian of the Estate is responsible for managing your child’s financial well-being if you die, including managing assets left in the child’s name. 

Reasons for choosing a Guardian of the Estate

Depending on your financial situation, there may be a significant amount of money that goes to your child upon your death, and it is the Guardian of the Estate's duty to manage that money on the child's behalf and in the child's best interest. 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. By naming a Guardian of the Estate, you can control who will be responsible for your child's finances if you should die. 

Duties of a Guardian of the Estate

The primary responsibility of a Guardian of the Estate is to treat the child's assets with care and manage them honestly and responsibly. 

A Guardian of the Estate must: 

  • Make an inventory of the estate assets and their locations and values, and report this inventory to the court 
  • File annual reports detailing the value of the estate, the income of the estate, the ways in which the estate is invested, any income to or expenses of the estate 
  • Protect the estate assets in the appropriate manner 
  • Manage the assets in a responsible and conservative manner (no risky investments) 
  • Pay debts and expenses (including medical care and education)

If the Guardian of the Estate is not also the Guardian of the Person

If you will be choosing different people to serve as Guardian of the Estate and Guardian of the Person, the Guardian of the Estate will have to work with the guardian of the person to distribute funds and pay any expenses that the Guardian of the Person may incur on behalf of the child’s well being. This may require good communication skills, the ability to collaborate effectively, and a willingness to work with another person on the child’s behalf.

For advice on choosing different people to serve as Guardian of the Estate and Guardian of the Person, see our article Appointing Different People as Guardian of the Person and Guardian of the Estate.

Naming a Guardian of the Estate for dependent adults

If you are the parent or guardian of a dependent adult, you will want to name a Guardian of the Estate for him or her in your will.

Duties of a Guardian of the Estate before a death has occurred

There are no legal responsibilities of a Guardian of the Estate 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 Estate and your child. If you will be naming different people as Guardian of the Estate and Guardian of the Person, it may be beneficial for these people to build a relationship as well.

For advice on how to choose a Guardian of the Estate, see our article How to Choose a Guardian of the Estate.

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