Guardianship In Michigan
How To Appoint A Legal Guardian For Minor Children
For many people, thinking about their death is uncomfortable. As a result, they avoid creating or updating their Estate Plan. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a legally documented plan that includes a Guardianship in Michigan which outlines who should take care of your children when you pass away, the state will decide who will become their legal guardian, even if this is a person that you wouldn’t approve of. Apart from laying out how your assets should be distributed after your death, your Estate Plan should name a caregiver for your minor children should you die unexpectedly.
If you are married, the surviving spouse will automatically become your children’s legal guardian. However, tragedies do happen that involve both parents passing at the same time. Making plans for who will look after your children in case of your untimely death is one of the best things you can do to ensure their future well-being which is why having a Guardianship in Michigan is so important.
Whether married or single, appointing a guardian is a difficult task for most parents. The information below highlights the importance of appointing a guardian while offering a few tips on how to do it.
What Is A Guardianship In Michigan?
A Guardianship in Michigan appoints a legal guardian who assumes parental responsibilities for your minor children in the event you are no longer able to do so. Guardians assume the parental role upon the death of the child’s parents. As a parent, you can appoint one guardian for all your children or different guardians for each of your children. You can also appoint multiple guardians for your kids.
Types of Legal Guardians
Most of the time, children only need one guardian. However, in some cases, a parent may appoint a guardian and a conservator. The guardian is the individual who assumes the primary upbringing responsibilities, including making day-to-day decisions on the child’s behalf.
On the other hand, a conservator is appointed to take care of the child’s financial interests, especially managing the child’s estate, including property and inheritance. However, if the guardian is also a good financial manager, you could appoint them to serve as the role of conservator as well.
What Are A Guardian's Responsibilities?
It’s important to understand a guardian’s responsibilities before creating a Guardianship in Michigan. A guardian is responsible for providing necessities, including food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. He/she also becomes responsible for all parental decisions, including the child’s education, how to raise the child, and decisions with respect to their health and well-being. Essentially, a guardian is responsible for caring and providing for the child until they reach adulthood.
Why Parents Should Create A Guardianship In Michigan
Designating a guardian is necessary to ensure your children will be cared for should you die unexpectedly. A guardianship also allows you to choose who will look after your minor children if you are no longer able to do so. Otherwise, the court will decide who will take care of them after your death.
As a parent, you should appoint a legal guardian for your child as soon as they are born or adopted. You should also regularly update your Estate Planning documents to reflect any changing circumstances regarding your child’s guardianship.
How To Choose A Guardian
When making a Guardianship in Michigan, it’s important to make sure the person you appoint as a legal guardian must be in a position to carry out all guardianship responsibilities. Therefore, before choosing an individual, you should discuss with your spouse how you would want your children brought up if both of you are no longer around to care for them.
Essentially, having clarity on how your children’s upbringing should look like in your absence, will help you determine what type of individual you need to appoint as their guardian. Consequently, you should list qualities and personal attributes that you think a good guardian should have.
While having a list of the general qualities you want in a legal guardian is critical, it does not necessarily make choosing the right candidate easy. Between your close relatives and friends, there are probably many people who meet your criteria, so you will need to narrow down your options.
Narrowing Down Your Options When Making A Guardianship In Michigan
To effectively narrow down your options to get the best legal guardian for your children, here are a few questions you need to consider:
· Are they caring, patient, trustworthy, and responsible?
· Can they be able to commit to the task of raising somebody else’s child?
· Do they share your family’s spiritual/religious beliefs?
· Do they share your family’s lifestyle and way of life, including socially and economically?
Parenting and Family Structure
· Do they have children of their own?
· If yes, would they be able to provide and care for another child/children?
· Do they have the mental and physical ability to raise a child?
· Would their habits negatively impact your child’s health? For instance, do they have unhealthy addictive behaviors, including smoking, drinking, or gambling?
· Would they accept your appointment as a guardian?
· Where do they live? Is it near where you live? Or would your children have to
relocate to another area?
· Does your child know them?
· Would your children need to change schools?
· Would your children be able to enjoy their hobbies?
While choosing a legal guardian is not an easy task, ensuring the guardian is comfortable with the role is critical. Therefore, it is important to discuss your preferences and expectations with your chosen candidate prior to making a Guardianship in Michigan.
Who Can You Choose As A Legal Guardian?
You can choose anyone among your close relatives, including your parents and siblings. You can also choose a close friend when creating a Guardianship in Michigan. However, the person you choose should not already have parental responsibilities for your children. For instance, you cannot appoint your partner if you have already granted them parental responsibility.
While having a blood relative as a legal guardian seems like an obvious choice, it is not a must if no one fits your criteria. Instead, you can choose a close friend if you prefer. For instance, while your mother can be a perfect choice, her age or physical ability might disqualify her.
Despite it being your choice to make, choosing a close friend as your children’s guardian instead of a close relative might result in a family conflict. Some close family members might not take your decisions to overlook them for an ‘outsider’ very well. However, you should be open about your choice and respectfully explain your reasoning when making a Guardianship in Michigan.
Informing Your Appointed Guardian
After making your guardianship choice, you need to inform the potential legal guardian. Set up a meeting with the individual and explain to them what guardianship entails.
Discuss their expected responsibilities and duties with them, the circumstances that would trigger these responsibilities, among other essential details of the guardianship process. You may also explain how you may want them to take care of your children in your absence.
While it is critical to discuss the guardianship process with the potential guardian, it is not necessary to discuss everything in one sitting. If necessary, you can put down your wishes and other details of the guardianship in writing.
Documenting The Guardianship In Michigan
After choosing the legal guardian and informing them, you should document the appointment as part of your Estate Plan. You can do this with either a Last Will and Testament or a stand-alone Guardianship. If you do not have an Estate Plan, it’s time to make one. If you need help creating an Estate Plan, please feel free to give us a call at (248) 613-0007 to book a consultation with one of our experienced Estate Planning Attorneys. They can answer any of your questions and help you design a plan to keep your family and children secure.
Changing Your Choice
Creating a Guardianship in Michigan is a crucial step in ensuring your child’s future well-being. While choosing a guardian is not easy, you should not hesitate to change or update your choices if you change your mind.
Essentially, people and circumstances change, so you may need to change your appointed guardian. The person you would choose to look after your child today may be a completely different person in five years. You may want to review your choice if:
· The guardian is no longer willing to continue in the role.
· The guardian has changed, and no longer fits your criteria.
· You have someone better to replace them.
· You have since had more children.
Choosing a legal guardian for your children and making a Guardianship in Michigan is not an easy task. However, it is a critical step towards ensuring your children will be taken care of if you are no longer able to care for them yourself.
While deciding who should raise your child is deeply personal, you should not postpone making this decision. We never know what could happen tomorrow, so you should take the necessary steps to appoint a legal guardian today.
Creating a Guardianship in Michigan can be complicated. As a result, you should work with an experienced Estate Planning Attorney to make sure it is done correctly.
Call us today at (248) 613-0007 to work with one of our experienced Estate Planning Attorneys to secure the future for your children.