Legal Blog

The Weekly Scenario: Who will raise my children if I died while they are still minors?

Question: Who will raise my children if I died while they are still minors?

Answer: Some view estate planning as just for ‘wealthy’ people (to govern how property is distributed). However, estate planning is not only how assets are distributed at your death, but also who will raise your children and watch out for their financial well-being.

There are two types of guardianships for minor children. First, the guardianship over the minor child himself or herself. Second, the guardianship over the minor’s property. A minor is not legally able to care for himself and unable to manage his property.

A guardian over a minor child is named in your Will. A guardian over a minor child’s property is typically not necessary since your estate plan will likely create a trust for the child and appoint a Trustee to manage the minor child’s property.

Comment: The individual you name as guardian for your minor child will be responsible for taking care of the child until the child reaches the age of majority (18 in Maryland and most other states). If you die without a valid Will that names a guardian, the decision will be made by the court. While the person named could be the right choice, there is no guarantee that this person would be the family member or friend you would have chosen.

As always, if you have any questions or would like to learn more, please let me know.


Steven E. Shane

Steve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.

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