What would happen to your children if you and your spouse passed away tomorrow? This is a question that NO parent wants to think about, and it often prevents couples from making an estate plan, especially when they come from very different backgrounds. While no one schedules an unexpected death, so there is no time like the present to get a plan in place, even if it doesn’t seem “perfect.”
Why Name A Guardian?
By not appointing a guardian, the fate of your children is left in the hands of the court systems. This could mean your children could end up with an estranged brother, a mother with a hidden drug problem, or even the foster system—the court will place your children with whoever appears to be the best fit. No matter what, there will be a period of chaos involving courts and lawyers to be endured while your loved ones are trying to grieve. Plus, no one knows your family like you do, so make the choice now instead of leaving it to a stranger later.
Who is A Perfect Guardian?
There is no such thing as a perfect guardian. The advice we usually give our clients is to make the decision based on who you think will continuously show love to your kids. Additionally, think about what is most important to you—religious preferences, location, emotional stability, etc.
One thing to keep in mind is the guardian of your children does not have to be the same person as the manager of your kid’s money. If one person seems like a good fit for raising your children, while another seems perfect managing the money, that can be incorporated into your plan.
Additionally, only think about who you would want to care for your children for the next 3-5 years—life changes fast, so thinking long term can be overwhelming.
Make sure to think about backups too. For example, you may think your sister is the best fit now, but when the time comes, she might have 3 more children of her own and not be able to take care of yours too. In this case, she can say no and your back up can take over.
What Happens if you Change Your Mind?
You can ALWAYS update your plan. In fact, we recommend reviewing and updating your plan every few years—people move, pass away, and drift apart. If you ever feel the need to change guardians, you can contact your estate planning attorney and they can take care of it for you.
When it comes down to it, you are trying to find the best person to fill your shoes when you are gone—someone to love and care for your children as you would. You are the best person to make this decision and appointing guardians is the only way to do it.
If you need to appoint a guardian or want to learn more, contact Ladimer Law. Our team is prepared to help you through the process and ensure there is a plan in place for your children.
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209 West Central Street
Natick, MA 01760
Ladimer Law specializes in estate planning. We protect our clients, their heirs, and their assets by listening closely, knowing the law, and executing estate plans that fit and evolve.