As a Fairfax Estate Planning lawyer, you’ve heard me say it many, many times that estate planning is important for everyone. But, for parents with minor children, it is absolutely critical!
I know how hard this is to think about, but, it is possible that you could die or become incapacitated, which would leave you unable to raise your children. Accidents and illness can strike instantly and without warning. Death, unfortunately, does not discriminate by age. As such, you should create a plan for how you want your kids to be raised, if something happens. Believe me, it will give you peace of mind as soon as it is in place.
Here at my law firm, putting together the legal documents to accomplish this task is the easy part. We have a systematized process that ensures naming legal guardians is quick and painless. The hardest part, however, is simply selecting the person that you want to raise your children.
Over the years I have helped many Fairfax families select a guardian for their children. I assist them in thinking through the things they may not have considered on their own. Many people have an idea of who they would choose before coming to see me, but I work with them to help solidify their choice or help them change their mind.
Most people will focus on the potential guardian’s values and ability to love their children as they would, and that is very important! However, the financial side of things must be considered as well. Here are a few issues that parents sometimes forget to consider.:
Will the guardian be able to manage your child’s money (or other assets)?
It is important to make sure that the person you select to raise your child can also manage your assets for the child. If you leave your child money or assets such as investment accounts, they will have to be managed until your child becomes a legal adult. Is the potential guardian able to do that? One way to know this is to consider how they manage their own assets. If they are doing a good job with their own money, they will most likely do a good job with your child’s. But, if they aren’t great with finances, they can still be your choice as guardian. You can actually name someone else to manage your child’s money freeing up the guardian to take care of your child’s physical and emotional needs.
Can the guardian accommodate your child in their home?
Does the guardian have room for your child in their home? If not, are they willing to move to accommodate them? This is a really big decision for most families. Be sure that your guardian understands how this would impact the logistics for their own family before saying yes. The bottom line is that they will need room for your child in their home as well as in their heart.
Is the guardian willing to maintain your child’s current quality of life?
Whether your child is a sports nut or like to play the guitar, you most likely want them to continue to explore their talents after you pass. Is your guardian willing and able to get your child to practice? For that matter, are they willing to drive to your child’s current school? It is not always possible to keep your child’s life exactly as it was before your passing, but you do need to decide what is important to you and work out the arrangements with your potential guardian.
What I hope you’ve learned from this post is that there are many issues that you need to consider when selecting your child’s guardian. If you would like help identifying the issues you may not have considered, please call our office at (571) 328-5795 to set up an appointment.