Conscientious Estate Planning For Oregonians

What if a child’s parents die and no guardian is named in their will?

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2024 | Estate Planning

In the unfortunate event that a child’s parents pass away in Oregon without having named a guardian in their will, the situation is handled through the state’s legal system. While the state aims to ensure a child’s welfare and safety in this scenario, having a trusted guardian named in a child’s parents’ will is a far superior scenario. Most people don’t like when the state tells them anything, let alone who will raise their child when they’re gone. 

The state’s process begins with the initiation of guardianship proceedings. A family member, close friend or another interested party generally must petition the court to appoint a guardian for the minor child. In some cases, the Department of Human Services may intervene if the child’s immediate safety is a concern, and the agency becomes aware of the situation before a private party does.

Court assessment and guardian selection

The court assesses the child’s situation, considering factors such as the child’s relationship with potential guardians, the preferences of the child (depending on their age and maturity) and the ability of the proposed guardians to care for the child. The court’s primary objective is to act in the best interest of the child, which includes working to ensure that their emotional, physical and educational needs are met.

If no family member or friend is able or willing to assume guardianship, the child may be placed under the care of the state. The state’s child welfare agency would then be responsible for finding a foster home or another suitable living arrangement.

Estate planning isn’t just about the distribution of assets; it’s also about making provisions for those who depend on you, especially minor children. As you’d almost certainly rather name a trusted loved one as guardian for your child in the event of your death – as opposed to whomever the state deems worthy – it’s important to make this effort if you are the parent of a minor child and have yet to execute a will.