Who you name as a guardian for your minor child is one of the most important decisions you will make when you are creating your estate plan. After all, you don’t want just anyone taking care of your child if you die or become incapacitated. You want the people whom you know, love and trust to be there to care for your children should the unthinkable happen.
While it is easy to fall into “it-won’t-happen-to-me” thinking, the fact is that anything can happen at any time. Without the proper, updated guardianship documents in place, a judge will decide who will raise your children, and that judge may not choose the person you want. In fact, the judge may choose the one person that you wouldn’t want raising your children.
The best time to appoint a guardian is now. The team at The Parents Estate Planning Law Firm, PC will make choosing a guardian as easy and painless as possible for you. If you have made any of the following mistakes when choosing a guardian, please call us at (978) 263-6900, and let us fix it for you:
1. Named a married couple without stating what will happen if one dies or if they become divorced –If the couple you named as guardians of your child ends up divorcing (as unlikely as it may seem right now) or if one dies, it poses a significant potential conflict about who will end up being the guardian for your child. This can be remedied by specifically stating in your guardianship nominations what should happen in the event that one person in the couple dies or the couple ends up getting divorced.
2. Picked only one potential guardian –It’s important that you name an alternate guardian in case your first choice cannot serve. You may feel like you are absolutely sure about this one person taking on the role of guardian, but it’s always practical to have another choice readily available. Take the time to talk to your first choice as well as your alternate choices about potentially taking on this role. You will also want to name the people you specifically DON’T want taking on the role of guardian (see Mistake #5 below).
3. Did not leave sufficient financial resources to take care of your children –Your guardians should not have to be financial decision makers for your kids, nor should they shoulder the financial burden of raising your children. In addition to naming guardians, it is also critical to have a financial plan in place for the care of your children.
4. Only have a Will –Which means the Court will be in charge of distributing your money, it’s totally public and doesn’t protect your money if your kids ever face divorce or a lawsuit.
5. Did not exclude someone you know you wouldn’t want raising your kids – While you likely know of certain people you WANT to take care of your kids, you also need to have a list of people who might challenge your decision or who you would NOT want to take care of your kids.
6. Did not name short-term guardians – You also want to name short-term guardians to take care of your child until your long-term guardian can arrive and take over. In case of an emergency, your babysitter or nanny may not know who to call or what to do. A short-term guardian can temporarily take on the role of guardian and provide immediate care for your child. If you don’t have short-term guardians, and the police are called, they could remove your child from your home and place them in protective custody.
We Help Protect Your Family
Almost 70% of parents with young children have no plan in place to protect them and are not prepared for the worst. Are you part of the almost 70%? Would you rather have a comprehensive plan in place that assures a bright future for your children, even in a dark time? The team at The Parents Estate Planning Law Firm is ready to help you get started with a plan for your family. Please call us (978) 263-6900 today or click here to contact us. We look forward to seeing you soon and caring for your family.