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Are godparents the same as guardians?

| Nov 5, 2019 | Estate Planning |

Parents may want to find someone who can care for their child if something happens to them.

Often, people remember hearing when they were younger that an extended family member was their godparent. While these figures can be both a godparent and a guardian, one requires a more complicated formalization process.

Understanding the difference

Godparents have more of a symbolic role and less of a legal one. That’s because they serve more of a religious purpose as they can help sponsor a child’s baptism. However, they can be similar to a guardian as a godparent is often regarded as a positive role model in the child’s life.

Legal guardians have a lot more responsibility. If both of the child’s parents were to die, the guardian would take over the role of the parent until the child turns 18. They are also responsible for making decisions about where the child will live, go to school and other matters regarding the child’s well-being.

Parents can establish who they want to be the child’s legal caretaker by putting the request in a will. In Massachusetts, if the parents die intestate, the state will decide who cares for the children.

Considerations for parents when choosing a legal guardian

Parents may want to think about these things when selecting:

  • Do they share the same values as the parents?
  • Do the parents want the same guardian to take care of their estate and their children?
  • Are the selected guardians financially stable?
  • Do they display good moral character?
  • Do they have the time and resources necessary to care for the child long term?

Parents may want to talk about these decisions

Selecting a guardian can be one of the most critical choices parents make. Once they find a caretaker they know and trust, they should formalize their request in writing. Parents in Massachusetts looking to establish a legal guardian for their child may want to contact an experienced estate law attorney. They can help address any questions and concerns parents may have.

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