What happens if the last-surviving parent dies, leaving behind young children? The executor will look to the guardians nominated in the will to step in and care for the children’s immediate needs, unless the deceased has indicated that there is someone who would be more appropriate (emotionally or logistically) for the children in the short run – say, an older family member who may not be nominated guardian but is closer to the children.
The guardians named in a will are only nominations until a probate/succession proceeding legally confirms them, which could take several months. The nominated executor should speak with counsel to determine how long the probate proceeding will take and if anything can be done to accelerate the process.
If the nominated guardians decide they should not serve for any reason, or if another close friend or family member objects because they feel they would be better guardians, the court will hold a hearing to determine who would be the best for the children, giving priority to the guardians named in the will.