Translating Legalese with Barton Law: Testamentary Guardian of Minor

Welcome to our monthly series: Translating Legalese with Barton Law. Legalese is used to describe legal terms and documents that are difficult for non-lawyers to understand. As attorneys, it is our job to translate these terms and documents for you to help you make well-informed decisions. Each month we translate legal terms that clients often find confusing so don't forget to check back in monthly!

The word "testamentary" means included in a Will and "guardian of a minor" means a person (known as a fiduciary) who is legally responsible for the care of a minor and his estate. In Pennsylvania, a "minor" is any child under the age of 18 years old. A Testamentary Guardian of a Minor is a person(s) who is named in the Will of the minor's parent(s) to care for and manage the financial affairs of the minor in the event that the parent(s) dies and the other parent is also unable or unwilling to care for the minor. This is critical as it is the parent(s) opportunity to direct, in writing, who should care for their children rather than risk a court-appointed guardian.

Some clients choose to name multiple guardians, in succession, and may also provide stipulations for who should serve as guardian first. For example, a client may name Sue, Sally, and then Sara, but stipulate that whoever is willing to raise the children in their childhood home should serve as guardian first. If Sue is unwilling to relocate to the home but Sally is willing, then Sally would serve first. If none are willing to relocate to the childhood home, the order would revert to Sue, Sally and then Sara.