Actor Charlie Sheen has been involved in various custody battles with two of his former spouses. At one point in the multiple disputes, the custody of two of Sheen’s children from his third marriage to Brooke Mueller was granted to his second wife Denise Richards. Though the situation was unusual, it shows how complicated custody battles can become when multiple adults are involved. If you or someone close to you passes away without naming a guardian for minor children, it is possible that a custody battle will ensue. Not choosing a guardian for your children makes it impossible for those closest to you to know with 100% certainty what your wishes regarding your minor children are.

No Guidance

Passing away without naming a guardian for your children means that those who first learn of your death and take initial custody of your children will not know what to do. This is problematic when family or friends are involved, but if the first person to arrive or react is a first responder or government representative, things get more complicated. Without a will or estate plan clearly documenting who has the legal authority to care for your children, Child Protective Services may be called and your children placed in foster care until a legal guardian is appointed by the courts.

Financial Problems

Depending on the size of your estate and if you had a will that disposed of assets but did not name a guardian, financial problems may occur. It is not always a good idea for the same person who has control over your assets to be the same person who has control of your children. The person who is responsible for the care of your children should want to provide them with a safe and stable home without interest in the disposition of their assets other than protecting their best interests.

Possible Disputes

Excluding key people in your circle can create problems, especially if you or a spouse has casually mentioned them being the guardians of your children in the past. A person who believes he or she knows what your wishes were, even if those wishes are at odds with what you have told others, may start litigation. An extensive legal battle makes it impossible for your children to have true stability at a time that they need it the most.

Protect Your Children

The best thing that you can do for your minor children is to create a well thought out will that clearly names guardians who have agreed to raise your children. An estate plan that names short-term guardians, long-term guardians, and additional guardians in the event of your initial choice no longer being able to care for the children provides your family with the protection they need. The companionate trust and estate attorneys at MMZ Law realize how heavy a burden this decision places on a parent. We will work with you to explore your options and come with a plan that best suits your situation. Contact our Claremont, California office today to schedule a consultation so that we can begin discussing your needs.

*We service Elder Law through Medi-Cal Asset Protection Planning



341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.