When it comes to estate planning, there can be no end to the number of factors a married couple must consider. Everything needs to be considered from protecting assets during their lifetime to skipping probate, avoiding unnecessary taxation, and a myriad of other issues affecting property and the interest their loved ones may one day have in it.
That said, an estate plan is about much more than property. While a lot of discussion about estate planning indeed concerns what happens to someone’s assets after they pass away, issues affecting their children must also be taken into account. Specifically, who will take care of their minor children and assume legal guardianship over them should the worst come to pass for the parents?
The Importance of Determining Guardianship in Your Estate Plan
When a couple also happens to be parents, there can be no greater decision to make than assigning guardianship of your minor children to a trusted relative or friend. This is a matter that shouldn’t be taken lightly – if you and your spouse were to suddenly pass away before your children turned 18, the legal guardian you selected can step in to provide care and love for your children in your place.
Without proper guardianship planning in your overall estate plan, there is a greater risk that the court may place your children with a relative you would not have preferred – or even in the foster care system.
How Do I Choose a Guardian for My Children?
When you are planning guardianship for minor children in your estate plan, the most important thing is to consider is your children themselves and what’s right for them.
You can select almost anyone to be a guardian, including your friends and distant relatives. If you feel a particular individual would care for and raise your children well, you should consider asking them to be a legal guardian. There may be a relative who wants to assume guardianship, but you should not feel pressured to appease this relative – or anyone else – if you do not believe they would be the best possible guardian.
The long-term potential for guardianship should also be considered. If your children are very young right now, you should think about picking a guardian who is unlikely to die or become incapacitated by the time they turn 18.
In that vein, you will also want to consider naming backup guardians. When it comes time for a guardianship to come into effect, your first choice may be unwilling, ill, deceased, or otherwise unable to care for your children. By choosing backup guardians, you can feel more confident that your children will end up in the care of someone you truly trust.
Will the Court Place My Child with the Guardian I Choose?
Generally speaking, the courts are inclined to abide by the deceased’s wishes unless there are strong objections by interested parties or circumstances that make assigning guardianship as instructed impossible.
By naming a guardian in your estate plan, you are telling the court that you trust the induvial you have named and desire their care and guidance for your children. Unless there are serious problems with the individual you selected, the court is likely to affirm the arrangement.
How Do I Include Guardianship in My Estate Plan?
Whether you have an existing estate plan or are creating a new one, you can discuss planning guardianship arrangements with your attorney. Because this is such a crucial matter, you should always consult with a legal representative and have this individual prepare the appropriate paperwork for you.
We at Dorcey Law Firm can help you incorporate guardianship plans into your overall estate plan so that you can feel more confident about your children’s future. For more information about what we can do for you, please schedule a consultation with us today.
You can reach us by calling (239) 309-2870 or by connecting with us online.