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Guardianships allow one person to legally assume the responsibility of caring for another person or managing their financial assets. In California, the term guardianship refers to an adult taking care of a minor child. The term conservatorship refers to an adult taking care of another adult who is incapacitated or incompetent to care for himself or herself. In other states, the terms for these relationships differ.
There are two types of guardianships in California: guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate. A guardian of the person acts as a parent would for a child if the child’s parents are not able to care for him or her. He or she has full legal custody of the child and makes all decisions about the child’s personal care that a parent would make. This includes housing, schooling, emotional and physical needs, and medical care. Children need guardians when their parents cannot care for them because of an illness, jail sentence, abusive behavior, military service outside the country, and many more reasons.
A guardian of the estate manages a child’s assets or income. Usually, children only need guardianships of the estate if they inherit a large amount of money or property. The guardian manages these assets and makes good investment choices. Guardians of the estate have fiduciary duties to children whose money they manage.
Becoming a guardian requires a specific court order appointing a person as the guardian of a child. The court grants the guardian the power to make important decisions on the child’s behalf, but in return the guardian must fulfill certain duties and be accountable to the court for his or her actions.
Parents of minor children should consider naming a guardian in a document that becomes part of their estate plan. In case they pass away while the children are still minors, they will have peace of mind knowing who will likely care for their children. Ultimately, the court has the final decision about appointing a guardian, but your document naming a guardian will carry weight, as will your children’s preferences.
Do you need to protect your family in case the worst happens to you? Angela Klenk, Esq. and the team at Beach Cities Estate Law couple personalized attention to your estate plan with big law firm experience for a winning combination to give you peace of mind. To schedule a case evaluation, visit Beach Cities Estate Law online or call (424) 400-2125.