The importance of naming a guardian for your children

Estate & Tax Attorney Stefanie Lipson shares advice on estate planning and explains the different types of guardianship and the importance of naming a guardian for your kids
The Importance Of Naming A Guardian For Your Children
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The importance of naming a guardian for your children

There are actually two different types of guardianship, when you are talking about a guardian for your children. There is the guardian of the person of your child, which is what most people think of when they are thinking of a guardian. Someone who is going to physically care for a child; stand in the shoes of a parent. Then there is the guardian of the estate of the child, which is the person who is going to manage the property of the child. Legally, a child cannot hold title to any property, whether it's a bank account or anything else, until they are age 18. There has to be somebody designated to hold title to that property for them, until they turn 18. Whether we are talking about nominating a guardian for the person or a guardian of the estate, it's important for the parent to have the opportunity to specify who that person should be. It can be the same person for guardianships, or it can actually be different people. What's important to understand is that a parent can only nominate who will be the actual guardian of a person. They can't actually appoint them. The appointment has to occur by the Court. That's because the Court always is subject to determine what is in the best interests of the child. Now, of course, the Court is going to give quite a bit of deference to who the parents think is the appropriate person to care for their minor child. Everything is subject to review as to what is in the best interests of the child at the time the guardian is going to be appointed. If you don't appoint a guardian, most states have a hierarchy of who would be appointed as guardian from family members. That opens up a lot of opportunity for family members to argue about who is the right person for the child. You want to avoid that as much as possible, by naming who you think is the appropriate person.

Estate & Tax Attorney Stefanie Lipson shares advice on estate planning and explains the different types of guardianship and the importance of naming a guardian for your kids


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Stefanie Lipson

Estate & Tax Attorney

Stefanie J. Lipson is an attorney in the Family Wealth Planning Group of Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman, & Machtinger, LLP.  Stefanie’s practice focuses on comprehensive estate planning for high net worth individuals, family business succession planning, probate and trust administration and the law of tax exempt organizations.  Stefanie counsels her clients with a holistic approach to wealth transfer solutions, structuring plans to meet a family’s individual needs while addressing the complex estate, gift and income tax implications of wealth transfer.  In addition, consistent with Stefanie’s belief that the most effective estate planning begins early, Stefanie has developed an estate planning program designed specifically to meet the planning needs of young families as they encounter common life events. 

Stefanie’s unique approach and application of Trust and Estate law has been well acknowledged by the legal community.  She served as a panelist at the 2010 Southern California Tax and Estate Planning Forum in a discussion involving multijurisdictional issues in estate planning and has authored publications for The Los Angeles Daily Journal and The Recorder.  Stefanie has been listed in Southern California Rising Stars each year since 2009.

Stefanie received her Bachelor of Arts in 2003 from University of California Los Angeles, graduating magna cum laude with the distinction of departmental honors and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  Stefanie received her J.D. from the University of Southern California Law Center in 2006.  Following her graduation from USC, Stefanie clerked for the Honorable Fred Keiser, Jr. in the New Jersey Superior Court, Family Law Division.  During her time with the court, Stefanie also served as a court appointed mediator for small claims civil matters. 

In furtherance of her estate planning work, Stefanie is currently pursuing a Master of Laws in Taxation (LL.M.) from New York University School of Law.  Stefanie’s studies at NYU focus on estate, gift and income tax matters relating to wealth succession planning and family business ownership.

Stefanie lives in Los Angeles, with her husband Marc and their new son Noah, whom she regards as her greatest achievement.

Guardianship, Wills and Trusts
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