Godparents vs Legal Guardianship

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

During the 14th century, a godparent was the person who witnessed an infant's baptism and was then responsible for that child's Christian upbringing in the event something were to happen to the parents.

Today, however, godparents are chosen by a child's parents based on friendship, financial stability, and other preferences. Sometimes, godparents are still considered the responsible party for a child's upbringing in the event something were to happen to the parents, and other times a godparent is used more as a superficial title for an esteemed family friend. Also, some parents even choose a different godparent for each child.

What is important to note is that a godparent is not a legal designation for a child's upbringing in modern society. If something were to happen to a child's parents, the Court may or may not honor the parent's wish to have their child raised by the chosen godparent. To institute official protection for a minor child in the case something were to happen to the parents, parents must establish a legal guardianship.

A legal guardian has the legal authority to raise a minor child in the event the parents' are no longer able to do so. The legal guardian is usually designated and documented in a will. The Court is warranted to honor the legal guardian chosen by the parents.

While a godparent is a more familiar relationship for many, the best way to ensure a child's upbringing is protected is to establish a legal guardianship. An estate planning attorney is the best resource to guide parent's a legalize the process. If you would like more information or need a referral to an estate planning attorney, please contact me.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisers before engaging in any transaction.

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