Naming a Guardian and Conservator

Among the many difficult prospects that people face when drawing up their wills is the matter of who will care for their minor children in the even that one or both parents dies before the children reach adulthood.  

As a general matter, if both parents are willing and able to care for the children, and one of them were to die, the remaining parent would take over physical custody and assume responsibility for the children’s care.  

If a single parent or both parents were to die, there must be a plan in place that addresses the care of the children.  This involves naming a personal guardian for minor children in the will.  Additionally, it is necessary to name a conservator, who is the person that will be in charge of the financial affairs of the children.  While these people are often the same, it does not necessarily have to be the case.  

The most common obstacle parents encounter when preparing their estate plan is choosing whom they should name as legal guardian and/or conservator for their children.  

It is advisable that both parents name the same person as guardian in each of their wills to avoid the possibility of dispute in the event that both parents were to die simultaneously.  

Whether the problem arises because the parents aren’t comfortable with any of their options, cannot agree on the same person, or want to avoid hurting the feelings of those family members not named, this issue can often cause parents to put off the preparation of their estate plan altogether.  

A qualified estate planning attorney can assist in navigating these and other estate planning pitfalls and help put your mind at ease regarding the process of estate planning.