If you are a parent with children under the age of 18, it’s important to plan ahead and make sure your children are taken care of in the event of a ‘worst-case scenario’ type of situation. While it may be hard to imagine what could happen to your children if you are no longer able to care for them due to death or incapacity, naming a guardian eases this worry by directing who will take over your role as caretaker.
Yet, naming them in a will alone—even with the help of another lawyer—your children could still be at risk of being taken into the care of strangers!
Fortunately, whether you’ve named guardians for your children in your will or have yet to take any action at all, you’ve come to the right place. At Trust Law, we specialize in legal planning for the unique needs of families with minor children, and we can ensure that you have all of the proper legal safeguards in place to make sure that your kids will always be cared for by the people you would want, in exactly the way you would want, should anything ever happen to you.
What’s So Complicated About Naming Guardians?
Naming and legally documenting guardians for your kids might seem like a fairly straightforward process, but it entails several complexities most people simply do not think about. Even lawyers with decades of experience typically make at least one of six mistakes when naming long-term legal guardians.
If you named legal guardians for your kids in your will—whether on your own using a do-it-yourself (DIY) online document service or with the help of another lawyer—consider each of the following scenarios to see if you have a blind spot in your estate plan that would leave your kids at risk:
Did you name backup candidates in case your first choice of guardian is unable to serve? If so, how many back-ups did you name?
If you named a married couple to serve and one of them is unavailable due to injury, death, or divorce, what happens then? Would it still be okay if only one of them can serve as your child’s guardian? And does it matter which one it is?
What would happen if you become incapacitated by illness or injury and are unable to care for your kids? You might assume the guardians named in your will would automatically get custody, but did you know that a will only goes into effect upon your death and does nothing to protect your kids in the event of your incapacity? Have you created a guardianship plan that goes into effect if you become incapacitated?
Do the guardians you named live far from your home? If so, how long would it take them to make it to your house to pick up your kids: a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks? Who would care for your kids until those guardians arrive? Did you know that without legally binding arrangements for the immediate care of your children, your kids are likely to be taken into the care of strangers until those named guardians arrive?
Would your care providers even know where to find your will and other legal documents if you didn’t make it home? If not, what would the authorities do while they tried to figure out who should care for your kids?
If you named a family who live nearby as guardians, what happens if they are out of town or otherwise can’t get to your kids right away?
Assuming the guardians you named can immediately get to your home to pick up your kids, do they even know where your will is located? How will they prove they are the people you wanted to be named as your children’s legal guardians if they can’t find your estate planning documents?
The Kids Protection Plan®
These are just a few of the potential complications that can arise when naming legal guardians for your kids, whether in your will or as a stand-alone measure. And if just one of these contingencies were to occur, your children would more than likely be placed into the care of strangers, even if just for a short period of time. If the idea of this is as frightening to you as it was to me when I discovered it, you need to put the Kids Protection Plan® in place to make sure this never happens to your family. The Kids Protection Plan® was created by a nationally recognized attorney, who is a mom herself, to make 100% certain that her kids would always remain in the loving care of people she knows and trusts and never be raised by anyone she didn’t want. And now, you can put this same plan in place for your kids.
At Truest Law, we have been personally trained by the creator of this plan and the author of the best-selling book, Wear Clean Underwear!: A Fast, Fun, Friendly, and Essential Guide to Legal Planning for Busy Parents, was written to help parents address this very issue. As a result of this training, we’re one of the few lawyers in the world licensed to prepare the comprehensive Kids Protection Plan® for your family. In fact, the Kids Protection Plan® is included with every estate plan we prepare for families with young children.
The full Kids Protection Plan® provides parents of minor children with a wide array of legal planning tools—including legal documents to name short- and long-term guardians, instructions for those guardians, medical powers of attorney for your minor children, an ID card for your wallet, and much more—to make sure there is never a question about who will take care of your kids if you are in an accident or suffer some other life-threatening incident.
Comprehensive Protection For Those You Love Most
While selecting and naming guardians for your minor children should be at the top of your to-do list, when it comes to estate planning, that’s just the start. Once you’ve named guardians, you should seriously consider putting a variety of other estate planning tools, such as a revocable living trust, in place for your kids.
These tools can help ensure that the wealth and assets you want your children to inherit will be passed on most effectively and beneficially possible for everyone involved. Meet with us at Truest Law to determine which planning strategies and tools are best suited for your family’s unique situation. Contact us today to get started.