There is no question that having children changes everything – and estate planning is no exception. If you and your spouse pass away or become legally incapacitated, and arrangements were never made in the event of such an emergency, your minor child or children will have to be placed with a new family. Not surprisingly, such a drastic change can be a disruptive process for minor children – even if they are placed with members of your family. If you choose a guardian for your child in your will or other estate plan documents this difficult time can go much more smoothly.
A guardian for your minor child “steps into” your shoes in the event you can no longer care for him or her. No one wants this to happen, but when a parent becomes incapacitated or dies, the minor child left behind will need care. Because a guardian plays such an important role in your family’s life, there are several factors to consider when choosing someone to take on this role:
In the same manner that you can choose different individuals to manage the estate’s finances and your minor children’s day-to-day needs, you can also choose more than one guardian for your kids. You may want to assign one guardian per child, depending on your family’s circumstances. That being said, setting up guardianship this way may result in your children being separated from one another, which is usually not a good outcome. Choosing someone who has the resources to care for your children – even if you have left money behind for their care – should also be a factor to consider. Finally, choosing someone who is young enough to be able to care for your child through his or her adulthood, as well as someone who is in good enough health to withstand the challenges of raising a child, are important factors that should be taken into account.
Once you have made a decision on who will be your child’s guardian, contact an experienced estate planning attorney. We can draft the documents you need in order to make this legally binding, as well as create an estate plan that suits your family’s needs and will protect your loved ones in the event you are no longer able to do so yourself.