We’re frequently asked whether or not someone should get a will. In general, it’s a good idea for everyone to have a will. However, if someone has minor children, I feel a will is required so that a guardian can be named.
If something happens to both parents of a minor, not having a guardian in place can cause a tremendous impact. While selecting a guardian or guardians is a hard decision to make, parents must not let the lack of decisiveness freeze them from making the decision.
If you don’t have long-term guardians named in a will, any “talk” of a designated guardian is not locked in.
What Happens If You Don’t Have A Guardianship Designation?
If something happens, your personal representative will open probate in your name. People will petition the court and ask the court to be named the guardian of your kid(s). Then, they will demonstrate to the court that they’re able and willing to be a good choice to be a guardian. At the end of the day, the judge is the person who’s making the ultimate decision: Who will raise your kids, teach them values and show them the way?
For most, imagining this process makes it all feel super real. When you think about it, there are people who look good on paper — and may be good people — but have different values or belief systems. You may not want those people to be appointed to raise your kid(s).
To reiterate, a judge doesn’t know what your values are and what is important to you. They look at a piece of paper and make the best choice they can, but it’s not always the right one. You don’t get a say in the process.