What should I know about a guardianship of a child’s estate?

Being named a child’s guardian should be taken seriously. For California parents who are considering naming a guardian for a minor child and those who are set to become guardians if necessary, it is imperative to understand what it entails. Being a guardian of the child is essentially the same as child custody with the need to care for the child, ensure he or she is educated, has a safe place to live and is given medical care, among other things. Another issue that frequently comes up is a guardianship of the child’s estate. Understanding the basics is key.

What are the responsibilities for a guardian of the estate?

When a person is named the guardian for a child’s estate, the child’s finances are the guardian’s responsibility. That includes money and assets. There must be accurate recordkeeping practices. The assets, income and payments must be handled in an aboveboard way with the child’s interests the sole requirement. If investments are made, the guardian must make them prudently without unnecessary risk. The child’s estate and the assets are required to remain separate from the guardian’s and anyone else’s. If there is an account for the estate, it must specify its nature as a guardianship account with the child’s personal information. There can be no mixing of the finances.

Along with checking accounts for paying bills, guardians are advised to place the child’s assets into safe entities such as insured accounts where there is no risk of loss. Putting an amount beyond $100,000 in one institution is inadvisable. A blocked account is an alternative, depending on the child’s financial situation. With a blocked account, no withdrawals can be made without court approval. The guardian is restricted in many actions such as paying him or herself fees or paying a legal representative. Money cannot be borrowed from the estate and the guardian cannot buy real property unless there is a court order. Failing to secure permission could leave the guardian liable to reimburse the account.

Legal representation is essential when considering a guardianship

There is an inherent trust given to a child’s guardian. Many of the requirements might seem overwhelming and not everyone is suited to taking on the responsibility. Not only does the child need to be cared for and watched in a personal way, but the finances are also a concern. For people who are thinking about a guardianship, it is important to understand the process and make a wise selection in naming a guardian. Prospective guardians should also be cognizant of their role and how complicated it might be. For legal help with guardianships and conservatorships, it can be helpful to consult with an experienced professional in estate planning.