Get our app
Account Sign up Sign in

Start Your Last Will and Testament

Create your Will now by answering a few questions. Or, learn more about Wills.

Start Your Last Will and Testament

Get started

A legal guardian is responsible for a minor child's physical care, health, education, and welfare until he or she reaches 18 years of age. This includes providing the basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, health care decisions and education choices. 

A guardian is not responsible to meet the child's financial needs with his or her own money. Often, a trustee handles those arrangements with money provided by the estate of the deceased parent or parents. A guardian, however, is not typically paid for his or her services, although financial assistance is generally available for legal guardians. 

How do I name a guardian for my children in my Will?

In most cases, if your child's other parent survives you, then that parent assumes the guardianship without any other special actions. However, you need to provide for the possibility that the other parent may not be available. To name someone as your child’s guardian in your Last Will and Testament, you identify the person by name so your executor can know who to contact.

Before designating someone in your Last Will and Testament, it's a good idea that you ask the person or persons if they are willing to be your child's guardian. A guardian is not legally obligated to serve, and naming an alternate, or two, is recommended in case your first choice refuses later on, or is unable to serve.

Technically, your choice as a guardian is just a recommendation to the court. However, state laws give high priority to your recommendation. Courts typically try to honor a parent’s choice unless compelling evidence against that choice is presented by someone else. Some states allow for a minor child to have input in the decision, particularly children who are 14 years of age or older.

What qualities do I want in a guardian?

The person you choose as the guardian should have good parenting skills and values similar to your own. Family members or trusted friends are good options. Co-guardians are permitted in most cases.

It is important, however, to select someone that a court will approve. Courts, generally, do not want to appoint anyone who has no experience, no education, or has shown that they are not able to manage the responsibilities. It is also important to update your Will if you change your mind about who you’ve chosen as a guardian.

What happens if my selected guardian cannot be appointed?

When the guardian or alternate guardian that you select cannot be appointed, social services may step in to help find and appoint a guardian. Social workers or the court may ask an immediate or extended family member to serve as guardian. 

If a family member cannot be found to serve as guardian, and there are no trusted friends that know the child, foster parents may be appointed. This is why it is so important to talk to the potential guardians, and alternates, before naming them in your Last Will and Testament.

If you have more questions about naming a guardian for your children, or estate planning, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

Ask a lawyer

Our network attorneys are here for you.
Characters remaining: 600
Rocket Lawyer Network Attorneys

Try Rocket Lawyer FREE for 7 days

Start your membership now to get legal services you can trust at prices you can afford. You'll get:

All the legal documents you need—customize, share, print & more

Unlimited electronic signatures with RocketSign®

Ask a lawyer questions or have them review your document

Dispute protection on all your contracts with Document Defense®

30-minute phone call with a lawyer about any new issue

Discounts on business and attorney services