Make Guardianship Decisions For Your Minor Children Now
When we talk about estate planning, we usually talk about money or assets, and that’s very important. But not all of estate planning is about money. It can also be a vital part of ensuring that your minor children are taken care of in the event of a catastrophe.
When Parents Pass Away
Regardless of whether you have an estate plan or not, if one parent dies, the other parent will be given custody of the minor children, unless there is some overriding reason not to or there has been a determination of termination of custody for the other parent.
But what happens if both parents perish at the same time? Who takes care of the children then?
You (or the surviving) children could have one of two problems. In one situation, there may be multiple relatives who want to care for the children, and they could end up vying with each other over who will do it. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there may be nobody who can take care of the children.
Multiple Family Member Options
Of course, the former option is always best—but it’s still not ideal. Much like a divorce custody battle, the court will take into account the best interests of the child, and weigh each relatives’ abilities to take care of the kids. Just like custody matters in a divorce, things can get very emotional and heated.
By not having an estate plan that deals with guardianship matters, you have left your relatives in an unexpected battle where they are claiming they are “better” for the kids than other relatives. And, you have left the ultimate decision up to a judge, who is still an outsider, unfamiliar with your particular family.
Making Your Will
A court will certainly do this inquiry, and make a determination as to who will parent the minor children. But you can avoid this kind of problem, by just including, in your will, an instruction as to who will be the primary caretaker of the children, in the event there is no surviving mother or father.
If you opt for a particular relative, you should get that relative’s acknowledgement in writing. This is especially important if, for some reason, you believe a non-relative, such as a close friend, may be a better parent than a distant relative. Your will can include justification and explanations for why you have chosen a non-family member guardian.
If There is Nobody
If you have absolutely nobody to care for the children, the children may be taken to foster care, until the Court can appoint a guardian.
At the very least, if you have no person to appoint, you can set, in your will, parameters for the court to follow in appointing a guardian, such as what religion the guardian should be, or the guardian’s lifestyle, or the geographic locations for the guardian. This will give the court some guidance in who to appoint to watch over the children.
A good estate plan protects your children and family. Call the Torrance wills attorneys at Samuel Ford Law today.