A divorced father
designated his child as a life insurance policy's sole beneficiary. When the
father died, the administratrix, as the child's "next friend," filed
a petition for the appointment of a limited guardian. The guardian's primary
role was to place the child's assets into an appropriate trust.
The child's mother
challenged the appointment, objecting to the trust's formation as too expensive
and too risky. The lower court found that the mother did not have standing to
contest the appointment because of her status as the child's mother. The lower
court then directed that all of the child's inheritance be placed in the trust.
On appeal, the issue
a parent has legal standing to challenge the appointment of a guardian for her
In In re Miller, 27 A.3d 987 (Pa. 2011) [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers / unenhanced version available from lexisONE Free Case Law], the
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reversed, holding that a parent does have
standing. Citing Senseman's Appeal,
21 Pa. 331 (Pa. 1853) [enhanced version], Appeal
of Corwin, 126 Pa. 326 (Pa. 1889) [enhanced version] and Pa.
Sup. Orph. Ct. R. 12.5, the court agreed with the mother's argument
that she had standing to challenge the appointment of the guardian for her
minor child's estate. The court held that:
right to be heard stems from the duty of a parent to maintain and protect his
or her child's interests. The fact that a parent has no right to his or her
child's estate does not diminish the parental duty to maintain and protect the
entirety of the minor child's interests, personal and financial.
is no question that Mother has a "substantial, direct and immediate
interest" in the appointment of Mr. Dempsey as guardian for her minor
child's estate. Mother's interest is substantial because it surpasses the
generalized interest of all citizens in the appointment of appropriate
guardians to represent the interests of minors. Mother's interest is direct
because there is a causal connection between the appointment of the allegedly
inappropriate guardian and the harm Mother alleges will inure to her child's
estate. Mother's interest is immediate because that causal connection is not
remote or speculative, but rather is asserted in the terms of the Trust.
Indeed, to deny Mother standing in proceedings regarding the appointment of a
guardian for her minor child, be it a guardian of the minor's person or estate,
would be to erect obstacles to the fulfillment of her parental duty to protect
her child's interests.
. . . .
Explore the LEXIS.com Estates, Gifts & Trusts and Elder Law resources
Discover the features and benefits of LexisNexis® Tax Center
For more information about LexisNexis products and
solutions connect with us through our corporate