Lately I have been getting several people telling me something like this, “I don’t have much in the way of assets or money, so do I even need to worry about estate planning?” This post aims to answer that question for parents. Parents need a plan for both death and incapacity. If you are a parent and your child is under 18, then this is directed to you.
The Cold Reality
Let me ask you parents a question, “What would happen to your child or children if you died in a car accident today?” Unless you think that your child is better off in foster care or the custody of the State, then you need to something about this. If you don’t have a plan then, you might as well get used to the fact some stranger is going to tuck them in at night if something happens to you. If strangers tucking them in after your death doesn’t appeal to you, then take heart because creating a plan that will spare your children from being wards of the state is achievable without undue time or expense.
A Designation of Guardianship is a short legal document wherein you get to decide who will become Guardians of your children in the event that you die. Within this document you can set-up temporary and permanent guardians in the event that the Permanent Guardian doesn’t live nearby and you need someone who can take custody of your children until the permanent guardian can make arrangements to receive custody and guardianship.
It Could Happen to Anyone
Picture this scenario, you and your husband are off on a cruise and either by storm, accident, or by local guerrillas you die. You have left your baby-sitter at home with adequate instructions and specific time for you to return. At some point your sitter is going to call the police, he or she will need to return to their life and will be concerned about you while trying to keep your children calm and answer those questions. If you left a temporary designation of guardianship, then the sitter will be able to leave the children with that person, if there is no designation or guardianship, then the Police will have no choice but to remove the children from the sitter’s custody and place them in the foster care system. Not even grandparents will have a right to remove them from the State’s custody without having an official Guardian appointed by the Court. Meanwhile your children will be living with strangers (often separated from each other) speculating what is going on with their family.
The above situation seems unlikely and it is probably is. But what is even more likely than that is ever day life. Maybe you get into a car accident, and you don’t die, but you are put in a coma. Incapacity can necessitate a guardianship just as easy as death can. This is not what you want for you children. This is not what your Children want for themselves. This situation is completely avoidable! For parents with minor children, a designation of Guardianship will probably be one of the most important documents that they have.
The hardest part about setting this up, is the mental effort required to choose a guardian for your children. These are hard decisions and should take some serious thought. After you have selected a guardian you need to gather contact information for those guardian(s) and finally draft the documents. This instrument is absolutely necessary if you have any children and is surprisingly inexpensive. If you are a parent of a minor child and you can only afford one thing, start with the designation of Guardianship and build from there.
If you are concerned about this issue schedule an appointment online now to see how easy it is to keep your children with those you trust if something happens to you.