Guardianship for Children

Guardianship proceedings for children are quite different from adult guardianship proceedings.  Anyone under the age of eighteen whose parents or legal guardians are deceased will have a guardian appointed on his or her behalf.  The guardian is responsible for making healthcare decisions as well as financial decisions for the child until he or she reaches the age of eighteen.

Anyone under the age of eighteen cannot directly receive assets from a life insurance plan, a retirement plan or a simple will.  The probate court will select a guardian who may be a relative, a family friend or a complete stranger.

Guardianship for a minor can also be fairly time consuming and costly, but it terminates when the child turns eighteen.  The guardianship process for minors can be eliminated or simplified if the parents have named a guardian for their children in a living trust.

However, if there is a legally incapacitated or disabled child, he or she may require a guardian for the rest of his or her life.  In this situation, the parents should consider using a special needs trust.  Also, the parents of a disabled minor should prepare to petition the probate court to become the child’s guardian once he or she turns eighteen.