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What are the two types of guardianship?

On Behalf of | Jul 23, 2022 | Estate Planning |

If you have children under the age of 18, one of your responsibilities as a parent is to make sure their care continues in the event that both you and their other parent die. You do this by appointing one or more guardians for them in your estate plan.

According to U.S. News and World Report, there are two different types of guardianships: guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate. You can appoint a separate person to each role, or you can name the same person as both, but ideally, your estate plan should address who will take on each role. Otherwise, the court has to decide for you, without taking your wishes into consideration.

Guardianship of the person

Guardianship of the person is probably what you think of first when you consider choosing a guardian for your children. This is the person who takes on the role of a parent in your place, meeting your children’s basic needs (e.g., food, shelter, clothing, love) and making important decisions on their behalf, such as what medical care they receive and where they go to school.

Guardianship of the estate

The law prevents children under the age of 18 from inheriting money or property. Therefore, a guardian of the estate takes care of your children’s inheritance until they are old enough to claim it.

Instead of bequeathing property to your children in your will, you can put it in a trust and name your children as beneficiaries. In this case, instead of naming a guardian of the estate, you appoint a trustee who manages the funds in the trust on behalf of your children. Despite the difference in the names, the roles of guardian of the estate and trustee are very similar in their responsibilities.