Two recent, highly publicized court proceedings have set the stage for an important conversation on guardianships. The murder case surrounding April Jace, and the legal battle regarding visitation with and decision-making authority for Casey Kasem, are two examples of why it is so important to discuss guardianships as part of your estate planning process.
The definition of a legal guardian is a person who has the legal authority and duty to care for the personal and property interests of another person, the ward. The ward may be a minor child, as in the case of April Jace's three surviving children, or an adult, as in the case of Casey Kasem. In both cases, both types of wards are incapable of caring for their own interests. Done correctly in conjunction with your estate plan, designating a legal guardian can help eliminate a great deal of emotional and financial distress, should you become unable to make decisions.
Guardianship of the Person
In a guardianship of the person, the guardian has full legal and physical custody of a child/ward, and is charged with making all of the same decisions that the parents would normally make. The guardian is responsible for the child's care, is required to provide safety & protection, to ensure that educational and special needs are met, as well as for the provision of food, clothing, shelter and supervision. In the event that a guardian has not been appointed, the court system will look at what is in the best interest of the child, placing them in the care of someone deemed capable of providing a safe, stable and loving environment.
In the case of April Jace, the court will likely appoint a legal guardian from one of several family members currently caring for the three children. This person will not only be responsible for the physical and financial responsibility of the children, but will become the court appointed special advocate for them as the case goes to trial.
Guardianship of the Estate
A guardianship of the estate is specifically responsible for the management of the ward's income, money or property. Sometimes this person is the same as the guardian of the person, but you may also designate two separate people. This type of guardianship is only needed when the child has received or will at some future date receive, valuable property such as real estate, money or a company.
For additional general information on guardianships, visit the Superior Court of California website for the County of Orange by clicking here.
Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC is a professional law corporation that provides a complete range of estate planning services including trusts, wills, powers of attorney and more. Our attorneys will work with you to develop and implement an estate plan specifically designed for you, your family, your business, your property, and your wishes. We use every legal tool at our disposal, along with our extensive real-world experience, to develop personalized estate plans for every client.
So plan ahead and call us today for your consultation. With Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC at your side, together we can secure your estate for the future.
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