Welcome to part three of our four-part 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 for you to help you make well-informed decisions.
Testamentary Guardian of Minor
The word "testamentary" means included in a Will and "guardian of a minor" means a person who is legally responsible for the care of a minor.
A Testamentary Guardian of a Minor is a person(s) who is named in the Wills of the minor's parents to care for and manage the financial affairs of the minor in the event that both parents die (or if one parent dies and the other parent is unable or unwilling to care for the minor). This is critical as it is the parents' opportunity to direct, in writing, who should care for their children rather than risk a court-appointed guardian.
It is recommended that parents name at least two people in the event that the first named guardian is unable or unwilling to act as the guardian. Some clients also choose to provide stipulations for who should serve as guardian first. For example, the parents may name Sue, Sally and then Sara, in that order, but stipulate that whoever is willing to raise the children in their childhood home should be prioritized 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.
BONUS: Your Will should also include language for a minor's trust as minor's cannot inherit money outright. You do not have to name the same person to be the trustee for the minor's inheritance. Clients may choose to name the same person to be the guardian and trustee, while other clients may choose to name two different people to provide a "checks-and-balances" system.
If you have minor children, now is a good time to double-check your own Will to be sure it includes testamentary guardians. If you have minor children and do not have a Will, you should prioritize putting one in place.
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