If one parent dies, the other parent remains the natural guardian of the children. When parents are divorced, the child typically goes to live with the surviving parent. If a single parent, or the surviving parent dies, or both parents die at the same time, it is important to have a will and designation of guardian for their minor children.
Designations of guardian for a minor child are legal documents that can be used to nominate a guardian for a minor child until the child reaches the age of 18. The guardian of the child has the power and the responsibility to make decisions for the child, including their schooling, religious upbringing, and medical treatment.
If there is no designation of guardian nominating a guardian, the court will appoint a guardian for the children. While the court must appoint a guardian that is the in best interest of the children, it generally is not concerned with the values, lifestyle, and child-rearing philosophy of the parents.
When nominating a guardian, parents should consider the lifestyles, values, and physical abilities of the potential guardian. Since this is a big responsibility, parents should discuss the nominations with the nominees to ensure the nominee is willing and able to serve as guardian. Additionally, parents should nominate an alternate guardian in case the first choice is unable or unwilling to serve as guardian.