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"Anyone but MOM!" The truth about Personal Guardianship.

Updated: Mar 14


Foreword: Listen! In no way am I saying MOMz is the anti-Christ. I mean, she's not even religious...kidding,...LOVE you MOM, but seriously, you might want to SKIP this blog. xoxo


ALRIGHT, now that we have that out the way, let's dive into today's BLOG.


PERSONAL GUARDIANSHIP:

How it Works and WHY you should have one if you have MINOR children



So WHAT is a Personal Guardian anyway?


A personal guardian is essentially an angel from heaven that for reasons unknown cares for your children (let's just pretend you have two) in the event you and your spouse suddenly and tragically die while they are still minors (under 18 yrs old).


But I digress.

Say you died without nominating a personal guardian, then by default the court would appoint one for you.


Now, if you're cool with grandpa first, brother second, and aunt third being that person, then by all means. BUT, and this is a big but, if you are like me and would rather have a close friend, perhaps a family friend be that person, then you'll need to nominate a personal guardian. There is just not two ways about it.


To compound things even more it's a Probate Judge that appoints the personal guardian, not you!

The best any of us can do is NOMINATE a personal guardian for a judge to consider.


Now how much does YOUR choice factor into the Judge's decision?


Answer: A LOT!!!


AS LONG AS YOUR NOMINEE is not Charles MANSON, isn't living in an insane asylum, and can function as a regular adult, I use this term loosely, the judge will honor your wishes.


But pump the brakes--

This doesn't mean a judge isn't going to do their due diligence. After all, we are talking about a child's well-being people! Plus, there are protocols for this sort of thing.


Factors a Judge will consider when Appointing a Personal Guardian:

The nominee's social and financial status, familiarity and relatedness to the child, criminal history, how many jumping jacks they can do (j/k), work history, relationship status (single-ready-to-mingle versus stable-married-person), and the overall suitability to the child or children. Note: this is not an exhaustive list.






So WHEN should you nominate a Personal Guardian?


NOW! No, really. There's no LOGICAL reason WHY you should be putting this off.


Granted you might be screaming--

"RUBEN," you don't know my family dynamics; there's no one I trust to be that person.


LOOK, I get it, really, I do. At first, I couldn't think of anyone to nominate either. It's hard.


But the alternative of not picking someone then dying is worse; so just pick a mildly competent person now and then swap them out later for someone you really like.


Because if you don't, your kids might just end up living with your degenerate Uncle Tom.




WHY should I nominate a Personal Guardian?


Because MOMz is getting old and let's face it, you barely survived her household. Joking. You might have one of those moms that is young, spry, and totally breaks the mold; that's great, but for most of us, Mom is not an option; really Mom, I hope you're are not reading this. :/



HOW do I nominate a PG?


Easy. Through a "Will." Contrary to popular opinion a will is not the efficient warm and snugly testamentary document that everyone makes it out to be. A Trust is! But I digress.


What a will does, that only a will can do, is GIVE you the ability to name a personal guardian. This is extraordinary in light of the fact that no other document does this.


So, what's the trick? No trick, just write out a provision in your will titled "Personal Guardianship," and then name the person you want to nominate.


For example:

Personal Guardian. If at my death any of my children are minors and a personal guardian is required, I name Jane Dickens as the personal guardian, to serve without bond. If she is unable or unwilling to serve as personal guardian, I name my sister Maggie Stacks as personal guardian, also to serve without bond. The aforementioned are my wishes.


That's it! No tongue twisters, no lengthy dissertation, just plain old simple English. State who you want to be the personal guardian, and throw the rest to the wind!


Final Thoughts


No I'm not Jerry Springer, but here are a couple things I'd like to end on.


There's no, I repeat, there's NO EXCUSE for not having a will and not including a personal guardian clause in that will. Not even a little bit.


First, the argument that wills are expensive is ludicrous, given the fact that California recognizes "Holographic Wills" as a valid type of will, which costs you nothing to create.


You can literally take a piece of paper and write down this is "your last will and testament" and that you want "All your property to go to Neil Diamond;" while also including a personal guardian provision like the one shown above, then sign and date it. That's it! Zero dollars people.


So if you are reading this and you have MINOR CHILDREN, please please please consider drafting a will that includes a personal guardian provision, so that in the event of your and your spouses untimely demise, someone you trust will care for your children.


After all, this is a decision you and your spouse should be making, NOT the courts.



Until next time my legalites!


-RJM LAWYER





[DISCLAIMER: in no way should this blog be construed as legal advice. You should always consult a licensed professional before making substantive legal decisions. This blog's aim is at humor and providing marginal advise on various legal matters; nothing more. By sharing said information in no way do I become your attorney or is a client-attorney relationship formed]



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