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Guardianship can be key element in administration of estates

Determining guardianships where necessary is often an important role served by probate courts in the handling of an estate. This is especially true in cases where there are large sums of money or numerous assets to administer. Such is the case involving the 9-month old child of Javon Belcher. Relatives from both Texas and New York have petitioned the court for guardianship, and a decision is expected soon.

Belcher was an NFL linebacker that killed the child's mother and then himself. Two family members have applied to the court to act as the legal guardian of the child. The first is the child's paternal grandmother, a resident of New York, and the other is a cousin of the child's mother who lives in Texas. Although the child's grandmother also initially applied for conservatorship of the deceased player's estate, the family has since agreed to have a third party handle the financial aspects of administering it.

The judge has many things to consider when determining which person will be the best guardian for the child. The two women had discussed an arrangement where they would share custody. However, a Texas human development specialist testified that she believes that the child's interests would be better served by having one primary caretaker with whom the child could form a stable bond. Visits with family members in other states would be an added benefit, and both families have indicated that they want the child to be a part of their lives.

It is difficult to ignore the fact that whoever is awarded guardianship of this child will also have a certain amount of access and control over the substantial financial assets in the father's estate. Taking this into account, the court can be expected to be very thorough when examining the petitions submitted. The age of the child, the expected length of time that the guardianship would be served, as well as educational opportunities and stable family relationships are all factors that must be considered. The women that have petitioned the court for guardianship of the child would benefit greatly from understanding the responsibilities and duties that accompany guardianships. Knowing what courts look for when determining guardianship can be very helpful in preparing for the process.

Source: chron.com, "Relatives seek custody of Chiefs player's baby," Bill Draper, June 11, 2013

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