You gave a lot of thought to whom you should designate as your child’s legal guardian if you and your spouse or partner both died or became unable to care for them. You looked at relatives and friends and considered things like financial stability, religious beliefs or moral values, geography, family status, age and health.
The person you chose agreed to take on this responsibility. You thought that part of your estate plan was all set. However, things change. That’s why estate plans generally need to be modified over time.
In this case, the person you chose is no longer the person who should be raising your child in the unlikely event that it became necessary. Maybe the person you chose is having health challenges or has moved far away from other family and friends. Maybe they’ve gone down a dark path involving drugs or alcohol. Maybe you’ve seen a side of them you never expected when you told them your child is gay.
Don’t leave the person you’re replacing in the dark
The process of changing your designated legal guardian in your estate plan is relatively easy. It typically just involves adding a codicil. If you already had an alternate choice designated and they’ve agreed to be first on deck, that’s even easier.
If your designated guardian didn’t ask to be removed, informing them of your decision can be difficult. They may fully agree that they’re no longer the best choice. However, they may take your decision personally. It can be an uncomfortable – although necessary – conversation.
Legally, you don’t have to inform them. Unless you think your new choice will, you don’t have to say anything. Odds are that they’ll never need to assume the responsibility. However, if something were to happen to you and your co-parent, they could cause problems and delay the probate of your estate – even though your updated designation should ultimately be upheld. More importantly, this would mean even more chaos for your child.
You owe it to your child and the rest of your family to change their legal guardian if it becomes necessary and to make sure that your previously designated guardian is aware of your decision and the reasons behind it. Having legal guidance can help things go more smoothly.