Ok, I get this question A LOT. It holds lots of parents up from getting their estate plan in place to protect their kids. So here is what I tell all of my clients. Don’t think of naming your kids’ guardians as a forever plan. Think of it as a three to five-year plan. Estate plans are not meant to be done once and never touched again. Estate plans (should) change and be updated as your life evolves. So, when it comes to your minor kids, I always say it’s better to have someone named than no one named.
If no one is named in the Will as the guardian of minor children, then it could lead to a court battle for custody of the kids. Although I know that I’m constantly saying that the Wills gets filed in the probate court and that we want to avoid probate. However, the process of appointing a guardian for minor children is different than the process of getting access to money. But the same principle is there – don’t set yourself up for a battle in court. If you name a guardian in your Will, then the Court will appoint that person unless there is some egregious reason not to. If there is no Will, then anyone can petition the Court to become the guardian of your kids.
My next piece of advice is to think of who will love your kids the most. Because no one will ever be able to replace you, there is no perfect answer to the guardianship question. But as a mother of two young kids, the most important thing to me is who will love them the most.
So here is what my husband and I did – we named our parents as guardians for our kids and a sibling as an alternate. That being said, if our parents get to a point where they can’t take care of our kids, we plan to update our documents. And I know you are thinking — that’s easy for me because I’m an attorney! However, my office offers a C3 program (continuing client care) where we give discounts to clients who come back to us to make updates or changes. So if you work with us, you won’t be put out every time you need to make an adjustment.
In summary, don’t overthink the guardianship piece of getting your estate plan done. Think about who will love your kids the most in the next three to five years. Don’t think about the guardian as a forever, set-in-stone thing. Maybe if you and your spouse can’t agree, you agree for three years to make it one person, and change it again in three years! Whatever it takes to set your kids up for the best possible scenario if the worst were to ever happen. You can’t put a price tag on your kids’ well-being!
If you have more questions about naming guardians or our Continuing Client Care program, please reach out to us at email@example.com or at 508.532.8689. We would love to help you check this item off of your to-do list!
Copyright © 2023 Ladimer Law Office PC
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.