Guardianship as Part of Your Estate Plan
If you have anyone in your life who depends on you for financial support, comfort and guidance, you should consider guardianship arrangements in your estate plan. This is especially important if you have minor children or care for a disabled adult who will never be able to live independently.
In your will, you can name a person you’d like to assume guardian duties of your minor child or an adult for whom you provide care or support. You should consult this person prior to executing your will to make sure he or she is comfortable assuming these duties. You and the prospective guardian must also understand the election is subject to court approval, and the ward in question is entitled to independent legal counsel in the matter.
A guardian can be “of the person,” “of the estate,” or both. A guardian of the person assumes responsibility for overseeing the health and welfare of the ward, while a guardian of the estate controls finances for the benefit of the ward. In the case of a minor, it is possible for one party to act as guardian of the person, seeing to the child’s upbringing, while another party manages the child’s inheritance. Similar arrangements can be made for a dependent adult.
Your estate plan can also address the ward’s financial needs. You can establish a trust to provide an income for the ward dispensed on a schedule that you decide is appropriate. For example, you can make the trust the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, so when you pass, the proceeds of the policy fund the trust. A trustee invests the funds prudently so that reserves can grow to provide for a minor ward’s expenses, including education costs, until the age of majority or beyond. A special needs trust can provide modest income for a disabled adult, who still might qualify for government benefits.
If you’d like to make guardianship a part of your estate plan, an estate planning attorney at the Charles Law Offices can provide the advice you need.