If you are a parent and have yet to name a potential guardian for your minor children and/or adult children with special needs, it is critically important that you work with an experienced estate planning attorney in order to do so as soon as possible. None of us knows whether we may pass away unexpectedly, so it is vital that you protect your children’s best interests by ensuring that you have named the person(s) you wish to serve as guardian of your children if anything should happen to you (and your child’s other parent as well, if applicable). Every state has different rules related to the guardianship of children, so please speak with an experienced attorney before you make assumptions about your situation and/or form a plan of action.
Designating the Right Guardian for Your Children in Your Estate Plan
Because every state handles matters of guardianship differently, you should not assume (for example) that if you pass away that your spouse will assume guardianship of your child if your spouse is not that child’s adoptive or biological parent. Too often, stepparents are placed in a position to battle for guardianship of their stepchildren when other well-meaning family members also wish to assume that role in the wake of a biological or adoptive parent’s premature death. No matter whom you wish to name as a potential guardian for your children in the event that tragedy occurs, you need to work with an experienced estate planning attorney in order to ensure that your wishes are both clearly articulated and are legally enforceable.
If you are unsure of who you want to name as a guardian (and as an alternate in case your “first choice” cannot or will not assume that role), consider both practical and values-based concerns. Think about where a candidate resides, if that candidate has a particularly time-intensive job, whether he or she will make efforts to honor family traditions, etc. Once you have a candidate in mind, an attorney can help you to properly reflect that preference in your estate plan.
Estate Planning Guidance Is Available
If you are interested in making a legally enforceable guardianship designation for your children, please do not hesitate to connect with an experienced estate planning attorney today. Taking this step is undeniably stressful, as imagining a world in which you are not physically present for your kids is very, very tough. However, in order to ensure that they are properly cared for in the event that you pass away prematurely, it is critically important that you work with an experienced attorney until this legal authority is properly designated. A law firm has extensive experience with all major estate planning tools and would be happy to help guide you through the process of naming a potential guardian for your children. Please do not wait to reach out to a firm, as none of us knows when an estate plans may become urgent business. They will work with you to make the process as efficient and low-stress as possible for you and your family.