You want what’s best for your children. And, should anything ever happen to your and or your spouse, you want to know that they will remain loved and protected with a guardian you trust. That’s why creating an Estate Plan that outlines thorough details in a Will should be at the top of your list. Why? Sometimes the unthinkable occurs. An Estate Plan is designed to help you provide the best possible care and protection for your children, should a guardian ever be needed.
Read on to explore why Estate Planning will be the best thing you do for your children.
1. Give Yourself Peace of Mind – Guardianship
An Estate Plan covers many areas, such as personal health care decisions, who will receive your assets, in addition to who will have guardianship over your children. If one parent dies, the surviving parent will usually have custody of the minor children as they are the natural guardian. However, if both parents pass away, a Court will assign guardianship.
In the Court’s assessment, they will look first to the ‘Last Will and Testament‘ of the deceased parent(s). This is a legal document detailing the parents’ choice for caretakers. It is important to understand, however, that although the parents have nominated the guardian in the Will, only a Court can actually appoint the guardian. The Court usually confirms the nomination of the parents, with the understanding that this was a thoughtful, purposeful decision on their end.
Are there any Exceptions?
There are some instances, however, when the Court, based on additional information and recommendations by family and professionals, will appoint someone other than the parents’ first choice. For this reason, it is important to nominate at least one alternate choice for a guardian in the Will.
2. Protect Your Child’s Future by Assigning a Guardian
If neither parent had a Will nominating a guardian, the Court will look next to family members. Many times there is a clear best choice and both sides of the family agree. However, without a Will, the situation can become quite problematic. What if multiple family members step forward, each believing he or she is the best choice?
Don’t leave your child’s guardianship to chance. It can result in a stressful, even bitter, prolonged and expensive proceeding that is difficult for everyone, particularly the children.
3. Consider Having a ‘For Now’ Guardian in Your Estate Plan
If you are having trouble choosing a guardian, it’s okay to nominate somebody that you might replace at some point in time. Pick someone “for now.” Children and relationships change, and your first choice of a guardian may change as well.
4. Make Sure You Have It in Writing
Most of us never think about dying. But sadly, not all parents live long enough to see their children grow up. As parents, you need to be prepared for the worst case scenarios and you need to have your preferences made known. Merely telling others who you want to care for your children isn’t enough. A guardian is only properly nominated when it is done in a Will.
Naming a guardian is perhaps the last and best gift that you could give to your children and family members. If you’re ready to secure your children’s future, Estate Planning can be simple (with the right guidance!). But, don’t wait too long. It doesn’t matter how little your children are. You want to make sure you’ve got a guardian in place so he or she can provide love and protection, should anything ever happen to you and your spouse. If you’d like to read more about how services and how to get started, click here.