Q: How do I get a court order and the letters of guardianship on my child?
My ex wife passed away and our 10 year old daughter is the beneficiary on her life insurance policy. In order to get a lump sum payment, State Farm Insurance is requiring me to provide a Certified Copy of the Court Order and Letters of Guardianship of the minor’s estate. I shared custody of my daughter with my ex wife until she died in December. There was no court action. My ex wife’s estate is in probate court now and the executor of that estate is her husband.
A: Not all attorneys have the experience needed to handle a Guardianship. Your case is further complicated by the divorce. I recommend going to someone who handles Guardianships all the time. I recommend you try Bill Jeffs at Jeffs & Jeffs, PC in Provo.
I believe what you actually need is a conservatorship. You are already the child's guardian by virtue of your status as surviving parent.
Be forewarned: as conservator, you will be responsible to the Court for every cent in your daughter's account. You may only spend funds from her account for her needs. You can be held criminally and civilly liable for any reduction in funds the Court finds to be fraud or waste.
You may want to determine what State Farm will do with the funds should they be allowed to hold them for your daughter until she reaches 18. Whether you are managing the funds or State Farm is managing the funds, the Court will likely require any investments to be low to no risk which is going to limit the amount of return. Once you have all the information from State Farm regarding your options, I would suggest you speak with a financial advisor to gain their input on your decision as well.
If you do elect to leave the funds with State Farm, make sure your daughter and whomever you designate as her guardian should something happen to you have the information needed to collect the proceeds when she reaches 18.
A: I forgot to add that conservators must file a report with the Court every year with bank statements detailing all expenditures. Unless your daughter has special health care needs which would require frequent expenditures, the reporting burden would likely be minimal. You WOULD need to remember to file the reports, however, and you could be called before the Court to explain any expenditures which the Court called into question.
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