In Belgium, the age of majority is 18. When one parent dies, there is no need to appoint a guardian for minors; the surviving parent will be the guardian. It is only when both parents of a minor have died that a guardian must be appointed.

The guardian is officially appointed by the justice of the peace (vrederechter / juge de paix).

You can appoint a guardian in your Will, or in a statement before the justice of the peace or a notary.  The justice of the peace is not obliged to appoint the guardian you proposed. If he considers that your guardian is unsuitable or that appointing him would not to be in the best interests of the children, he can appoint someone else. In international situations, when the guardian lives outside Belgium, the justice of the peace will normally take interim measures for the protection of the children and their assets. 

If you have not appointed a guardian, the justice of the peace will appoint one, preferably a close family member. The justice of the peace will interview children over 12 and he will meet their brothers and sisters who are over 18, the grandparents, the uncles and aunts and anyone else who may wish to be heard.

The justice of the peace will also appoint a supervisory guardian, preferably from the family of the other parent, who will report to him. The justice of the peace can also appoint two guardians, one who will look after the children and one who will be responsible for financial matters.

Nobody can be obliged to act as a guardian or a supervisory guardian, and they can always ask to be released.

If the child has a dispute with the guardian he can file a complaint with the public prosecutor's office if he is 12 (15 for money matters). A guardian who does not look after the best interests of the children can be revoked.


The guardian must make an inventory of the estate of the child. He manages the property of the minor and he reports every year about the education of the child and his finances. However, he needs the authorization of the justice of the peace for major financial decisions such as the sale of property.