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What is the importance of guardians in an estate plan?

On Behalf of | Jun 9, 2022 | Uncategorized |

People can go through most of their lives without ever hearing the word “guardianship,” but the legal concept is important. Naming a guardian in an estate plan can be the ultimate act of love toward family or elderly family members.

Guardianship explained

Essentially, guardians, or “guardians of the estate,” step in as caretakers when the existing guardians are no longer able to be caretakers for a child or vulnerable adult. For example, if parents pass away, a guardian will take over their parental duties. If you care for an elderly family member, you can also name a guardian for those elderly family members as well.

Guardianship responsibilities

In most guardianship situations, the guardians are responsible for all of the duties a parent would normally handle. This includes food, medical care and decisions, education and education-related decisions and all other basic needs.

No surprise guardians

Estate planning conversations can be complicated and scary. This is why they are so commonly avoided.

At the same time, no one should ever be surprised by a request to be a guardian. Why? It is a huge responsibility, and as such, the guardian needs to understand and accept it prior to guardianship appointment. After all, not everyone wants to be a parent, and becoming a guardian means becoming a parent. Have an honest and frank discussion with the person or persons you want to be a guardian. Make sure they understand what they are signing up for, and make sure they agree.

In addition, talk to backup guardians as well. This will ensure that if your primary guardian changes their mind, is not able to be a guardian or pre-deceases you, then there is backup. In fact, many experts recommend naming multiple backup guardians.

Paying for care

Part of what makes being a parent so scary is the cost. But, you can plan for your children’s care in your estate plan to ensure that this fear is not there for the guardian. Setting up a Geneva, Illinois, trust, in addition to an initial bequest to the guardian directly, can help make the transition much easier for your kids and the guardian.