You put a lot of thought into choosing the person who would be your child’s legal guardian should anything happen to both you and your spouse. In fact, your child’s birth is what incentivized you to begin your estate planning.
It’s been a few years (or maybe longer) and things have changed. Maybe you chose a parent who has developed serious health problems. Maybe you chose a sibling who has moved far away or married someone you wouldn’t want your child to be around. Perhaps you chose your lifelong best friend – who just quit their job to follow conspiracy theories on secret websites.
Whatever the reason, you shouldn’t just hope that your child won’t need a legal guardian before they reach adulthood. How do change your designated legal guardian?
Changing your estate plan may be the easiest part
Fortunately, with an estate planning professional, amending your estate plan can be simple. If you designated them in your will, you can likely just add a codicil (addendum) removing them and designating another person.
If you also named them as a trustee for your child’s inheritance, you’d need to make that change as well. These changes need to be made even if your new choice was previously your alternate or contingent guardian. Of course, you need to make sure your newly chosen designated guardian (and alternate) are agreeable to taking on the role.
You also need to inform the person you’re removing as designated legal guardian. If they made the request, that’s not a problem. If you just don’t think your previous choice is suitable any longer, it can be trickier. However, you have to do what’s best for your child.
You aren’t required to notify the person you’re replacing – but you should
Even though you aren’t legally required to inform them, you don’t want them to hear it from someone else. More importantly, if anything were to happen and they thought they were supposed to step in, there could be an unpleasant, time-consuming and costly legal battle that’s only going to harm your child at a very difficult time.
With sound legal guidance, you can make this change as smoothly as possible and move on, with greater peace of mind that your child will be well cared for, no matter what the future brings.