Why Appointing a Guardian for a Minor Child Goes Beyond the Will

This article emphasizes the importance of not just appointing, but also connecting a child with their potential guardians, ensuring they’re cared for by trusted family or friends.
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Written by:Tim J. Wooten

Attorney at Law

Tim has 20 years of practice experience and has wide experience with federal and state courts throughout the country in insurance coverage, insurance defense, complex litigation, construction and design, product liability, breach of contract, federal tax controversy and disputes before the IRS and U.S. Tax Court, settlements and probate, and multi-jurisdictional litigation.
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Few things are as significant as ensuring your minor child is cared for by someone who loves them in the event of your passing. As you consider who to appoint as a guardian in your will, consider fostering the relationship between your child and chosen guardians now. This article explains how Atlanta residents can ensure their children will be in the right hands, no matter what the future holds.

Who Does Your Child Call Family?

Imagine a scenario in which your child needs to live with someone else. Would they move in with “strangers” or family they know and love? One mother in Ohio ensured that her daughter, Kathryn, would know her designated guardians – an aunt and uncle in Colorado – as family. They intentionally scheduled a series of visits to Colorado so Kathryn could get to know her aunt and uncle. The goal is that by spending time together now, Kathryn will recognize them as part of her circle of love and trust, not just names in a legal document.

What Is a Legal Guardian and How Do You Appoint One for a Minor Child?

A guardian, explains NerdWallet’s article, “Guardianship: What a Legal Guardian Is, How It Works”, makes decisions for a person who cannot act independently, such as a minor child. This role includes overseeing personal care, making medical decisions, and managing the child’s assets until they reach adulthood.

The most straightforward method is to appoint a legal guardian for your minor children and name them in your will. This method legally empowers the guardian you’ve chosen to care for your children if you pass away or become incapacitated before they turn 18. An article from Forbes, “10 Tips For Choosing A Guardian For Your Minor Child,” shares good suggestions for choosing a guardian.

Can You Change Your Mind about a Guardian?

Absolutely. Life changes, and so can your choice of guardian. Initially, you might think someone is a perfect fit, but you might need to reconsider as situations evolve. It’s crucial to remember that your decision isn’t set in stone. Regularly reviewing your choice and considering your child’s relationship with the appointed individuals ensures that your guardian appointment aligns with your family’s evolving needs.  In fact, regular review of your entire Atlanta estate plan is recommended every three to five years based on how many life changes you encounter.  Read more in our article, Update Your Estate Plan: Navigating Life’s Changes.

Why Might Grandparents Not Be the Ideal Choice?

Many of us instinctively think of our parents as the go-to guardians for our children. They’ve raised us, so they may seem like ideal candidates, but it’s important to consider their age and health. As they grow older, the responsibilities of raising a child, especially through the teenage years, might be too much. This doesn’t mean they can’t play a significant role in your child’s life; it just means the primary guardianship role might be better suited to someone else.

Is Compromise Necessary?

Sometimes, choosing a guardian can create tension between spouses, each preferring their family members. Compromise is key. Perhaps one family can assume primary guardianship duties while the other handles financial matters. It’s about finding balance and ensuring your child’s well-being.

What about Close Family Friends?

Don’t overlook the potential of close family friends, especially those who share a similar lifestyle or whose children are friends with yours. Such a choice could offer your child stability and continuity in their social and educational life.

How Do You Appoint the Right Guardian?

Consider who you’d call in an emergency, who knows your child’s bedtime stories, and who they’re comfortable with. That person might be the ideal guardian. Remember, the perfect guardian is someone your child knows and trusts.

Why You Shouldn’t Leave a Minor Guardianship Decision to the Courts

Leaving such a critical decision in the hands of a Georgia court means strangers will determine your child’s future. It’s a situation you want to avoid. By making a choice now, you retain control over your child’s care and future happiness.

Should Your Child have a Say?

If your child is old enough, their opinion matters. They might provide insights that hadn’t occurred to you, ensuring their future guardian is someone with whom they feel safe and loved. Taking the time to develop a relationship between your child and the selected guardian will ensure they are comfortable with each other.

Key Guardian Takeaways

  • Foster Relationships Now: Connect your children and potential guardians.
  • Consider Age and Health: Consider a grandparent’s ability to care for children into the future.
  • Compromise With Family Members: Find a middle ground that ensures the child’s best interests.
  • Look Beyond Family: Consider naming a close family friend who shares your values and lifestyle.
  • Avoid Court Decisions: Make a clear choice in your will.
  • Involve Your Children: Ask an older child. Their preference can help you decide on their guardian.


While many parents understand the importance of appointing a guardian, they may overlook the crucial aspect of fostering relationships between the child and their potential guardians. By taking steps now to foster these relationships, Atlanta parents can ensure that, in the event of the unthinkable, their child will be left in the hands of people they know and consider family. Contact an estate planning attorney for help appointing a guardian for your minor child.

References: Forbes (Jan 29, 2020) “10 Tips For Choosing A Guardian For Your Minor Child” and NerdWallet (Jan 26, 2024) “Guardianship: What a Legal Guardian Is, How It Works

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