Recently, we devoted a blog post to things to consider when choosing the person who would be the legal guardian for your child if both you and their other parent were to pass away or become too incapacitated to care for them. What if, for any number of reasons, that original choice you made and codified in your estate plan is no longer appropriate?
Parents sometimes need to change their designated guardian because that person has moved and is no longer in the area where they want their child to remain. Sometimes the person they chose develops health or other problems that would prevent them from properly caring for a child. Maybe they’ve had more children of their own and can’t be expected to take on another one. In some cases, people become estranged from close friends and even family members when they develop social and political views that are very different from their own because they don’t want their children raised with those views.
Making the change to your estate plan
Whatever the situation is, you have the right to change your child’s designated legal guardian. It’s actually not that difficult to do – at least in terms of making the change to your estate plan. Every estate plan is different, but if you designated the guardian in your will, you likely will just need to add a codicil with the newly chosen guardian.
Of course, you need to make sure the person you’ve chosen is willing and able to take on the responsibility. If you had already named them as alternates, still make sure they’re agreeable to being the first choice.
Notifying your original choice of the change is crucial
If the change isn’t because your original guardian asked to be relieved of the potential responsibility, you need to inform them. While that’s not legally required, it can prevent a lot of problems if a guardian were to become necessary – like a potential court challenge that would only make things more painful and unstable for your child. You also don’t want to risk your original choice finding out from someone else rather than you.
If you have sound legal guidance, making this and other necessary changes to your estate plan over the years can be simpler. It’s always better to have an estate plan in place and make modifications over the years than put off having one.