The Colorado Supreme Court says even if it conflicts with the parents' will, a child's best interest should take priority in some kinds of custody disputes that arise after the parents die.
Attorneys say the decision Monay could have broad implications for other custody cases.
The high court has ordered a lower court to reconsider who should be named guardian of a 2-year-old girl whose father shot and killed his wife and then himself last August.
The lower court had ruled that the girl's paternal grandmother should be the guardian because that's who the parents had named in their wills for that purpose and because the child wouldn't be harmed by it.
The unanimous Supreme Court ruling says the standard in determining guardianship in such a case should be the child's best interest, not whether the decision would cause harm.
The girl's aunt and her husband had sought guardianship and appealed the lower court's decision. The Larimer County sheriff's department had placed the girl with them after the shootings, and they've been caring for her ever since.
Denver lawyer Dave Heckenbach says the ruling is important because it clarifies what lawyers had assumed for a long time but didn't have definitive guidelines from the Supreme Court.