Guardian of the person: Minor child

A guardian of the person has day-to-day responsibility for your minor children, assuming the role of a substitute parent when you die.

Q. How is the guardian of the person appointed?
A.When you die, someone must petition the court to be appointed as the guardian of the person.  You have the right to nominate a guardian of the person to take care of your children when you die.  The court will normally defer to that person as the guardian of the person and the guardian of the estate.  However, other individuals have the right to petition the court to serve in these roles.  If this should happen, the court will examine who best will protect the interests of the minor(s) and appoint that person as guardian.

If you don’t nominate a guardian, the court will do it for you, according to state rules of preferences.  A surviving parent usually comes first, followed by grandparents, if neither parent is alive.

Fact: Surviving parent rights
If one parent dies, the surviving parent continues to have the right to take personal care of minor children.

When a divorced or single parent dies, the court generally appoints the surviving parent as guardian of the person for a minor or disabled child, even if the deceased parent would have been opposed to that.

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