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Changing your child’s named legal guardian in your estate plan

On Behalf of | May 2, 2023 | Estate Planning |

The birth of a child is often the event that incentivizes people to begin their estate planning. They want to ensure that their child will be well cared for if anything were to happen to both parents before the child reached adulthood.

A lot can change over 18 years. Maybe the person you chose to be your child’s legal guardian is no longer up to the task or no longer the person you feel is best suited for it. 

There are multiple reasons to change your designated legal guardian

People change their designated legal guardians all the time. Maybe a parent’s age and health have left them unable to take on the task of child-rearing. Perhaps a sibling has gotten married and converted to another religion in which you don’t want your child raised. A best friend may have taken a job overseas and is no longer geographically suitable. 

Sometimes, it’s the child’s needs that warrant a change. Maybe your child has physical or emotional issues that would be too much for your designated guardian.

Regardless of the reason, you have every right to change your child’s designated legal guardian. If you simply designated them in your will, that’s a simple change to make – generally by adding a codicil (addendum). If you also set up a trust and made that person the trustee, that would need to be changed as well. 

Communication with all concerned parties is critical

Of course, you need to make sure your new choice for a potential guardian agrees to the responsibility. Even if they’re already the alternate, be sure they know of the change you want to make.

If you’re making the change for some reason other than your current designated guardian’s request, telling them you’re choosing someone else is likely something you’re dreading. However, it needs to be done. While it’s not a legal requirement, you don’t want them to find out from someone else who knows about the change. 

Even worse, if something did happen that would warrant the legal guardian stepping in, there could be some conflict and confusion before things are sorted out by a court. That’s not something you want for your child.

Every situation is unique. However, making a change to any part of your estate plan is always easier when you have experienced legal guidance.