Why is it important to legally name guardians for my minor child? Can’t I just tell my family what my guardian preferences are?

Ultimately, if you were to die while your children are still minors, the courts would name guardians for your children.  It’s important that you make your wishes clearly known by legally documenting your choice of guardian.  Only you know best what your hopes and dreams are for your children and you know your family far better than a judge.


It’s especially critical that you nominate guardians to avoid family feuds that can be extremely stressful for your children and expensive and time consuming for the rest of the family.  It’s not uncommon that more than one grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc. will step forward petitioning to become guardian of the children. 

Furthermore, it’s critical that your nominations be legally documented to avoid any confusion or family disputes.  One of the most egregious stories that I’ve come across was of the Barber family in California.  The Barbers were a young couple with three young boys.  During a family road trip, they were involved in a fatal car accident in which both parents died and the boys survived. 

In the months that followed, more than one family member stepped forward petitioning to be guardian of the boys and things spiraled out of control pretty quickly with some pretty nasty accusations being made.  The court was at such a loss trying to sort things out that the boys were in foster care for months.

Before all was said and done, the case dragged on for months, there were 9 attorneys involved and thousands of dollars spent on litigation and to this day, we still don’t know for sure what the Barbers preference would have been.