If you have minor children, it is important to consider the estate planning implications of providing for them before they reach the age of 18. If you leave your children a substantial inheritance, it will be necessary to name a guardian for their estate until they reach the age of majority. A guardianship of the “estate” is separate from a guardianship of the “person.” The latter refers to the person who has physical custody of the child and oversees his or her daily care. A guardianship of the estate, in contrast, only deals with property owned by the minor child.
Family Member or Professional Fiduciary?
In many cases, a guardian of the person will also serve as guardian of the estate. But depending on the size and complexity of the inheritance that you plan to leave, it may make sense to name a separate guardian of the estate. For example, you might name a close relative to serve as guardian of the child’s person while designating a professional fiduciary to serve as guardian of the estate.