The Fairy Godparents
In the best bedtime stories, the children in distress are saved by their Fairy Godmother, but few people realize that Fairy Godparents still exist today.
When I say they exist, I mean that they don’t exist. But what I really mean is that most people who consider themselves to be “godparents” aren’t really godparents under the eyes of the law; therefore, they might as well be fictional.
What is a Godparent?
As the name implies, a godparent has traditionally been a person designated to ensure a child’s religious upbringing. Today, the godparent role isn’t restricted to religious upbringing, but the godparent is referred to as the person trusted to care for the child should she become orphaned.
What most people actually mean when discussing godparents is a legal guardian. For today’s discussion, we’re going to focus on a godparent protecting and caring for the orphaned child as a legal guardian.
Appointing Legal Guardians
Upon the arrival of a bundle of joy, after picking out a name, one of the first conversations between the new parents involves picking out godparents to take care of the new arrival, “in case something happens.” Sometimes they even go as far as telling the desired godparent of their new role.
In the event that “something happens,” how much legal weight do you think a Court gives to the godparents simply telling the judge that the child’s parents announced the godparents’ new role at a barbecue several years ago?
Preserving the Choice of Guardians
You already know the best way to preserve your desires: put them in writing. If you are contemplating writing a Will, then it is common to include a provision appointing the godparents as legal guardians upon your demise if your spouse does not outlive you.
If you do not have a Will, you’re not prevented from naming a godparent as your child’s legal guardian. You can appoint your choice of godparent as your child’s legal guardian in a separate document. We’re not talking about ending your parental rights or anything because this document wouldn’t take effect unless you and your spouse passed away.
Take Action Now
As a parent, I know that the most important responsibility is to protect your child. If you haven’t taken steps to preserve your choice for godparent/legal guardian, then the Court will make that decision for you after you’re gone.
Don’t wait to take the necessary steps to protect your children because you may not have another chance. Contact your Estate Management Attorney for help with the legal formalities of drafting the document of your decision.
–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,
Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Estate Management & Family Law Divisions
1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309
Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479