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What Does Washington State’s New Uniform Guardianship Act for Minors Mean For Estate Planning?

On January 1st, 2021, Washington state’s new Uniform Guardianship law was signed into effect. The law revamps the process for Minor Guardianship, which refers to non-parents becoming the legal guardians of minor children. The new act replaces the Non-Parental Custody laws that were previously in place, although all approved custody orders remain legally valid. It also allows for clarity when parents nominate their preferred guardians of their children in their own Estate Plan.

The Uniform Guardianship Act for Minors is actually intended to be adopted nationwide, although Washington is one of the first states to sign it into law. It is much more clear than the previous regulations were about how authority is commodified and how long the guardianship in question can last. Along with a new law, however, comes new forms and transition, and the Uniform Guardianship Act is no exception.

Minor Guardianship refers to anyone other than a child’s parents who wants to become their legal guardian. It could refer to grandparents, other relatives, friends, community members, or neighbors. It typically comes into play when a child’s parents have either passed away or when parents are unable to care for their own children.

Under the Uniform Guardianship Act for Minors, there are three requirements that must be proven for a valid Minor Guardianship approval: that the child does not already have a legal guardian, that the appointment is in the child’s best interests, and both parents consent to the appointment, unless their parental rights have been terminated (through death or a prior court ruling) or they are deemed unfit to carry out their current parenting functions.

Parents of minor children can get ahead of the curve by designating their preferred guardians of their children in their Estate Plan should anything happen to them. This is particularly useful in having the parents’ wishes carried out in the event of an accident. The rules for designating guardians were overhauled in the Uniform Guardianship Act. They are now much more clear, and should be filed with the help of an experienced lawyer.

At the Law Offices of Mackenzie Sorich, PLLC, we know how important your children are to you. We can help you designate your preferred guardians in your Estate Plan so that you can rest assured that your children would be raised how you want them to. Contact the Law Offices of Mackenzie Sorich, PLLC today for any Estate Planning help! We are compassionate legal professionals at your service.

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