When you are preparing or updating your estate plan, there is nothing that is more important, yet also more difficult, than planning for the future of your minor children. While it may be hard to think about how your children will be cared for in the event that you pass away, it is far worse to leave them without having their needs addressed. With that in mind, review the following five key items that you need to consider while making your plan.
When you are planning for the future of your minor children, you need to have two types of long-term guardians (sometimes the same people fill both roles, but that is not necessarily advisable). Ideally, these are named not just in your will but also in a separate document to cover any scenario where you become incapacitated (the will is only operative upon your death). First, you need to have someone who is the ‘guardian of the person.’ This is the individual or couple who will be physically caring for your child or children. Next, you need to have ‘guardians of the property,’ who will be the ones who take financial care of your child or children. Both of these guardians are long-term in nature.
In addition, you also need to name short-term guardians. Naming short-term guardians can help to prevent any possibility of your children going into protective custody of the state before a long-term guardian can be appointed. This is properly done through a separate document (not within a will).
Many people are tempted to simply select a relative or even a close friend to take care of their children if they pass away (or become incapacitated). While this very well may be the right choice, it often isn’t. You need to objectively think about who will be able to raise your children the best. Even if you love your friends and family very much, are they responsible enough to raise your children? This is something only you can answer.
Another important thing to consider is the fact that, depending on the age of your children, this could be a very long term commitment. With that in mind, you may not want to select elderly family members, even if they may do a good job. The last thing you want is for your children to have to lose another parent figure while they are still growing up.
Make sure you pick someone who has similar character and values to you. Choosing the right person(s) will not only ensure that your children will be raised in a certain way, but it will also help to minimize the adjustment your children have to go through. Anything you can do to make this transition easier is beneficial.
Raising children is extremely difficult both financially and emotionally, and it is even more so when it is unexpected. Make sure you choose someone who is up to the task. You don’t want to leave your children with someone who does not have the ability to give your children the life you want for them.
Despite the fact that this is a seemingly impossible decision to make, it is something that must be done so that your family is properly taken care of. Take some time to really think it through to help ensure you make the right decision for everyone involved.
Please contact me today if you’d like to discuss this subject further!