Appoint Guardians for Minor Children – Michael Jackson Did (Part II)
Pennsylvania law provides that the court shall not appoint as guardian of the estate of a minor the parent of the minor, except that a parent can be appointed as a co-guardian with another co-guardian.
A guardian of the person is a sort of substitute parent. For so long as the ward (the minor child is called a ward of the guardian) is under the age of majority, age 18, the guardian has the same rights and duties as a parent. As parents, you and your spouse are the so-called “natural guardians” of your minor children. Natural guardianship is a personal right to the custody of a child until the child reaches the age of majority. Where the parents are unmarried, the mother is considered the “natural guardian.” A natural guardian, however, does not have any authority to exercise control over the minor child’s property, except in limited circumstances where the court approves an award to the parent.
In the case of a married couple who are both the parents of the children, a court proceeding is not required when one parent dies. The surviving parent is the natural guardian. In all other cases, such as blended families and unmarried couples, court appointment is required to have legal authority. Will the court appoint the guardian who is nominated in the will? Probably. But its not automatic. If there is no will and the parents are deceased, the court will select and appoint a guardian.
Too many young couples say, “we don’t need wills; we don’t have anything to leave to anyone.” If you have children, you have the most valuable thing in the world. You do everything you can to be a good parent. Make sure you make a will and have plans for your children’s care if you are no longer around.