Among the least pleasant topics for California residents looking to draft a valid will and testament is that of guardianship for their minor children. Some parents may rely on the law to ensure that children enter the custody of their trusted next of kin, but even this is no guarantee that guardianships of both children and their inheritance will end up with preferred individuals. Understanding California law on guardianships and why each is necessary for the parents of minors can help protect heirs from asset disputes and other probate issues.
An estate guardianship is essential for minors who directly receive significant assets in their name. This person will be charged with carrying out orders from either the court or a valid will to invest assets, administer any disbursements and protect property. If an estate guardian is not named in the will, or the named party is unable or unwilling to serve and has no backup, the court has discretion to choose a guardian.
The same is true to a lesser degree with a guardian for children. The courts favor close family members in deciding the best interests of the child, but courts may be swayed by probate litigation designed to show that someone else is better able to fill the responsibilities. These include provision of food, shelter, safety, health care, education and other growth needs.
The instructions in a valid will can protect minors and any inherited assets in the event one or both parents die or become incapacitated. If a will is lacking these, it may be up to responsible relatives or friends to approach the court with an intention to take on guardianship responsibilities. This may require as little work as filling out necessary forms and submitting to an investigation, or it could mean a lengthy court battle against other would-be guardians. An attorney experienced with this type of probate issue could offer an assessment and advice regarding individual cases.