Taking Care Of Your Children If Something Happens To You
As an estate planning and asset protection attorney, it is my duty to help my clients cover all the bases when they come to me to create a long-term, comprehensive plan.
One topic that many people forget to include when discussing assets is how their children will be cared for in the event that something tragic happens to both biological parents. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes couples do die together in tragic automobile accidents, plane crashes and other unforeseen events.
A will is an important part of any long-term estate plan.
I always bring up this topic to my clients because it is so often overlooked. Not only does guardianship need to be covered in your will, but how assets will be distributed or used to provide care for your child or children in such an event.
If you don’t leave a will or an advance directive regarding the care of your children, the court will decide on a guardian based on the best interest of the child.
The “best interests” criteria is similar to what a court might use when selecting a custodial parent in a custody fight. Of course, the ideal for the courts would be to move a child into the care of a guardian the child knows very well. This minimizes the disruption of children at a traumatic time. Family members are usually preferred, and they have the right to petition the court for the appointment. Some states may require a background check or other investigation into the suitability of the guardian. Ultimately, it is the decision of the parents and it must be clearly established in the will.
It may be a good time to review your will and make sure all of your bases are covered. If you would like help reviewing your will, please give us a call.