Many parents in California believe that if they name a guardian in their will, that person is without a doubt the one who will raise their children in the event of your untimely death or sudden accident. However, under California guardianship law, your will is just the starting point when it comes to choosing who will watch over your minor children after you are gone. The courts will review your case and determine what is in the best interests of your child. If your chosen guardian is the best choice for your child, they will in all likelihood become the guardian. But if another person proves to be the best choice for your child, according to the courts, you’re the desires outlined in your will may be overridden.
How do California courts determine the best interests of a child? A judge may ask the following questions:
- Who is the child closest to emotionally?
- Who will allow the child to live a stable, safe and comfortable life?
- Is there a family member or relative who is already close with the child? Will the child be able to easily maintain family bonds?
- Would it benefit the child to remain in his home, in his community, in the country where he grew up, and in the school he attends?
- Does the child have unique cultural values that should be maintained or cultivated?
- Who will give the child the love, attention, affection, and guidance that he needs?
- Will the guardian be able to care for the child consistently and until the child is of age?
- How will this placement affect the child’s psychological wellbeing?
- How will this placement affect the child’s physical wellbeing?
- Does the guardian have a criminal past or a history of domestic violence?
- Will the child be removed from his current friends and community members?
- Is the guardian motivated to care for the child?
- Is the child old enough or mature enough to voice his own guardianship preferences? If so, what are they?
A Silicon Valley estate planning attorney can help you further understand how the best interests of your child can affect the court’s guardianship choice – and what you can do to make more certain that the guardian you wish to raise your child is chosen by the courts. Especially if your guardian lives overseas, it is important to take certain steps to ensure that your child is raised by the right person in the case of your death. Call the Law Office of Janet Brewer to learn more about California guardianship and to safeguard the future of your children, whatever comes to pass: (650) 325-8276.