"Godparent" is not synonymous with "Guardian"
Believe it or not, lawyers do have lives outside of the office and courtroom. Sometimes people even ask us about our area of practice! It is in social settings that I frequently hear this statement:
"Oh, we don't need a will; we already have godparents picked out."
Hmm, I say. Are they family members? Is your choice in writing? Signed by two disinterested witnesses?
No, no, and no.
Then I wish the best of luck to your children's godparents gaining guardianship of them should the worst happen. Appointment of a godparent is not the same as appointing a guardian.
The role of godparent is a religious one. Generally, a godparent is an adult who sponsors a child during a formal religious ceremony or rite and is responsible for ensuring the child's religious education is carried out. In Merry Ole England, a godparent may also have taken over as parent to the child if both parents died. Today, in modern America -- and specifically, in modern Virginia -- the role of godparent is not often a formal one, and they have no real responsibility to the child.
The role of a guardian is a legal one. To nominate a guardian for their minor children, parents must document their wishes in a will. Va Code 64.2-1701 lays out the requirements for making such a designation.
If nominating a guardian for your children is of interest to you, please use the contact form on this site to schedule a free consultation. For low income individuals determined to be in need of a will, payment arrangements may be made.