Adding a guardian to your estate plan

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Adding A Guardian To Your Estate Plan

When many people think about estate planning, they focus on money and assets. They think it is all about who gets what after they pass. However, a full estate plan includes much more, like powers of attorney, trusts, medical proxies, guardians, etc. And, for parents, your guardian designation can be one of your most important decisions.

Who cares for your children?

If you pass, who will care for your children? If you and your spouse pass at the same time, who will care for your children? These are tough questions, which causes many to avoid answering them. But, if you die while your children are minor, you leave their fate up to New Jersey family law court and the state’s child welfare system.


The answer to these questions is your guardian. Guardianship is the New Jersey process in which another adult is empowered to take over your parent responsibilities, should you and your spouse pass. This means the guardian will be responsible for all parental responsibilities, like food, shelter, schooling, medical care, etc.

Who is the guardian?

You and your spouse select the guardian, but you should speak with them first. A guardianship designation should never be a surprise. It is a huge responsibility that not everyone wants or is capable of handling, which is why you should talk to those whom you wish to serve as a guardian. And, do not forget to have backups too. Just because someone is willing now, does not mean they will actually be willing if the time comes.

Estate planning

Guardianship is just one aspect of a full Haddonfield, New Jersey, estate plan. Speak with your estate planning attorney to make sure that your estate plan covers everything you need, including ensuring that your wishes for your children are covered.


Michael Ritigstein is a Founding Partner of the firm concentrating his efforts in supporting the firm's litigation, corporate and estate matters. Mr. Ritigstein graduated from the University of Delaware in 1996 and Seton Hall University School of Law in 2000. In 2007 he received a Masters of Law in Taxation with a concentration in Estate Planning, from Temple University's Beasley School of Law.

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