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Do I Need to Designate a Legal Guardian for My Child?

Guardian holding child's hand

The birth of a new child is a wonderful thing. But what about their legal needs? You may know that you have to register their birth and apply for a social security number for them. Both of these things are typically done while you’re still in the hospital after their birth. But what else should you do? Does your new child need to have a legal guardian?

Keep reading to learn more about legal guardianship and whether you should name a legal guardian for your child now.

What Is Guardianship?

In Texas, guardianship is when someone is given limited authority over another individual, such as a minor child, person with a disability, or an otherwise incapacitated adult. Legal guardianship is designed to maintain the individual and to encourage their self-reliance and independence as much as is appropriate and possible. Guardianship is defined under Texas Estates Code, Section 1001.01.

When it comes to appointing a legal guardian for your minor children, the goal is to ensure that they remain in good care and financially stable if something happens to you and/or their other parent. If the unforeseen happens, the guardian will be responsible for their physical, educational, and moral upbringing.

In Texas, parents wishing to name a legal guardian for their children can do so in their will.

How to Choose a Guardian for Your Children

Choosing a guardian for your children is one of the most important and difficult decisions you will make. It is important that when making this decision, you consider all angles and that you and your child’s other parent agrees with who you are selecting. Remember, should something happen to you and your co-parent, your children’s guardian will essentially serve as a parental figure.

Things to consider when selecting a guardian for your child:

  • The type of upbringing you’d like your child to have
  • Whether your chosen guardian will be able to provide a similar family environment for your child as the one they currently have with you
  • The educational goals you have for your child and how their guardian can support them
  • Your family values and religion and whether they align with those of your chosen guardian
  • Your current location and where the child’s guardian lives – are you okay with your child potentially changing schools or moving to a new state?
  • Whether your chosen guardian will be able to support a continued close relationship between your child and their extended family

Selecting a guardian is extremely difficult. Most people tend to choose a family member to serve as a guardian for their child, but this is not necessary and isn’t always possible. If you have no close family, or your only family members are incapable of serving as guardians, you may be better served selecting a close family friend.

Talking to Your Potential Guardian

No matter who you choose, it is important that you sit down and speak with them at length before naming them as guardian. Being a child’s guardian is a significant, long-term responsibility. You want to make sure everyone is on the same page and in agreement about the situation. It is also important that the person you are hoping to name has the opportunity to say no. Though they may love your child very much, not everyone is up for becoming a guardian.

It is also recommended that you name a couple of additional people to serve as guardians if your first choice is unable to act as guardian when the time comes. As time goes on and situations change, someone who was initially prepared to take on the responsibility may no longer be able to.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Name a Guardian

Your will is an important legal document, and it’s prudent to work with an experienced lawyer when drafting and finalizing it. This is especially important when you outline your wishes regarding who will care for your children and how.

If you need to name a guardian for your child in your will, reach out to Hunt Law Firm, PLLC. We have helped numerous families prepare for the future, and we can use our experience to help you, too.