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What’s involved in changing your child’s designated guardian?

On Behalf of | Apr 5, 2023 | Estate Planning

As responsible new parents, you and your spouse chose a designated legal guardian for your child when your baby was born. You gave it considerable thought and were relieved that your chosen person agreed to become your child’s legal caregiver should the two of you pass away or become incapacitated while your child was still a minor.

Now it’s a few years later (or maybe even a decade or more), and things have changed. Maybe you chose a grandparent who now has serious medical issues or cognitive decline. Perhaps you chose a sibling who has joined a militia group and has more firearms than furniture. Maybe you chose your best friend from college, but they’ve moved halfway around the world.

Communication with all parties involved is key

Whatever the situation, you need a different guardian. If you already have an alternate or contingent guardian who’s still appropriate, that’s good. However, you should still talk with them and make sure they’re fine with being moved up to designated guardian. If you don’t, and you choose someone new, you need to be sure they agree to it (and probably choose a new alternate).

Making the change in your estate plan is probably going to be the easiest part. If you listed your designated guardian in your will, you’ll probably just need to add a codicil – or amendment – which is relatively simple.

If your previously named guardian asked to be removed or if the need for the change is obvious, confirming with them that you’re amending your estate plan will probably be easy. If they still think they’re perfectly fit to raise your child but you don’t, you may have a challenging conversation ahead of you.

Legally, you aren’t required to notify someone that you’re replacing them. You can hope that they never have to know and that your child will become an adult with both parents still alive and well. However, it is recommended that you tell them. If you don’t and something does happen, not having that clarity could cause problems. While they wouldn’t prevail in court, it could complicate your child’s life at a time when they’ll already be grieving.

If the person you chose to be your child’s legal guardian after your death is no longer your choice, don’t leave anything to chance. With experienced legal guidance, this change can go as smoothly as possible.