You spend so much time caring for your children, but do you know what will happen to them if something happens to you? If you have minor children (children under the age of 18) and something happens to one parent, usually the surviving parent will assume the role of sole guardian. But what happens if you have minor children and there is no surviving parent?
If something happens to both parents while children are minors, a guardian must be appointed by a court. This court-appointed guardian will be responsible for the care and custody of the children, much like the parents were. The judge in court will select the guardian he or she deems is the best fit for the children based on the facts and people presented to the judge. The judge has a duty to act in the children’s best interest. While judges take the time to understand every particular situation, they will never be able to know the day to day details of the guardians they are evaluating. The judge does not know you, your children, or the specific ways you want your children raised. Even with the best intentions, it is quite possible that a judge would appoint a guardian that you would never want raising your children.
Wouldn’t you want to have a say in who raises your precious children? Wouldn’t you want to select someone who has the same values and goals as you? Someone who you trust to raise your children almost as well as you would?
If your answers to the above questions are ‘yes’, you can very easily do something about it. With a little bit of planning now, you can ensure that you have control over who will take care of your children if you are unable to raise them yourself.
By doing something as simple as writing a Will, you can choose who would take over the very important role of raising your children if you were not around to do the job yourself.
In your Will you can name a guardian as well as an alternate guardian (in case your first choice is unavailable or unwilling to act). Having a Will is just a part of your estate plan, but it is the document which addresses the most important things in your life – your children.
A Will is easy to have set up and it will put your mind at ease to know that your children will be well taken care of if the unfortunate should ever happen.
By Shirley M. White, esq.Tune in to next month’s article to learn even more about the importance of estate planning. If you have any questions you would like specifically addressed, please email them to Shirley@ShirleyWhiteLaw.com