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The birth of a child is an important time to begin your estate planning, if you haven’t already. Not only will you want to plan and protect your child’s inheritance, but of more concern may be deciding who could care for your child when you are unable to and incapacitated, or if you’ve passed away while your child is a minor.
In California, guardianship determinations are made by the Court. Guardianship is need for children under 18 years of age. By documenting guardianship nominations for your children in your Will, you are able to express your wishes to the Court for consideration during the guardianship proceedings. The Court will consider your wishes and will also consider what is best for your child, and, age permitting, will ask your child what he or she wants. The individual appointed as guardian of the person will have full legal and physical custody of your child, meaning that they will have the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of your child.
Some important considerations in naming a guardian may be the following: the guardian’s ability and willingness to serve, the guardian’s moral values and child-rearing principles, the guardian’s lifestyle, the town in which they live and the school districts there, the guardian’s family structure, and whether your children would assimilate well into a home with their own children. There may be financial concerns when naming a guardian as well; however those are concerns that can be addressed by your attorney when planning your estate.
Christine Ellingsen is a Northern California native now practicing law as an estate planning attorney in Carmel Valley San Diego at the Barger Law Group, APC. She spent a year in New York working in the business sector before moving to Southern California to attend law school at the University of San Diego. She is happy to have started her law career in San Diego and to now call Encinitas home, where she keeps busy between exploring Coastal North County and training her new puppy.