By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. a New Jersey Estate Planning Attorney

Unless you name guardians for your minor children in your Will, the court decides who takes custody of your children upon your death.

If you have minor children, naming a Guardian for them is one of the most important considerations in your Will.  Typically, if one parent dies, the surviving parent will remain the legal guardian responsible for the children.  However, complications arise if both parents die simultaneously, or if one parent has remarried.  Unless you name Guardians for your minor children in your Will, a judge of the New Jersey Supreme Court will decide who takes custody of the children in those situations.

In most cases where one spouse is legally the mother or father or a child, that spouse is automatically appointed as the Guardian of the children without court involvement.  If you want to appoint someone else, frankly you can’t.  Only if the natural parent is unfit to be a guardian will they lose guardianship, then the court will balance your desires with what is in the best interest of the children.  For example, if you are remarried and you want your current spouse (and not the child’s natural parent) to be the Guardian, you may want to state your reasoning on why your current spouse would be better for the children.

Guardians are responsible for a child’s health, education welfare and other daily needs.  They are also responsible for managing a child’s property (unless a testamentary trust has been created for the child.

Contact me personally today to discuss your guardianship questions and concerns.  I am easy to talk to, very approachable and can offer you practical, legal ways to handle your questions.  You can reach me toll free at (855) 376-5291 or e-mail me at