The importance of choosing a legal guardian for your child in case anything should happen to both you and your spouse is one of the things that spurs a lot of young adults to put an estate plan in place. However, too many people put it off.
It’s often a tough decision – particularly if you don’t have relatives or close friends in the area who would make ideal caregivers. Many people procrastinate in choosing a guardian because they’re afraid circumstances could change that would make their choice unsuitable.
Like almost every other part of your estate plan, you can change your designated legal guardian. It’s typically not an expensive or difficult change to make. Your attorney can simply draw up a codicil to designate your new choice and make the previous choice void.
People change their designated legal guardians for all kinds of reasons. Maybe you chose one of your parents, but they’re no longer up to the task. Maybe you chose a sibling who has recently moved across the county. Like many Americans, maybe you’ve become estranged from your best friends over political and social issues, and you no longer want them raising your child.
Do you have to notify the people you previously named?
No one relishes the idea of telling someone they no longer want them to be their designated guardian – particularly if the choice is based on something other than a cross-country move or the fact that your chosen couple just welcomed a new set of twins and clearly have their hands full.
Legally, you’re not required to tell them. You may figure the chances they’ll ever find out are slim, and you won’t be around for the fallout anyway. However, much of estate planning is about making things easier for those left behind. Do you really want your child in the middle of a potential battle between the previously designated guardian and the new one?
You’re not even required to get someone’s consent to be your child’s chosen guardian. However, despite the delightful antics that ensue in these surprise situations in romantic comedies, life isn’t a movie. You owe it to your child to make sure the person you’ve chosen wants the job and is confident they can do it. As noted, with legal guidance, making this change to your estate plan doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive.