Preparing for the worst case scenario is rarely on anyone’s to-do list. However, as a parent, a comprehensive estate plan can help you properly prepare for your child’s well being.
For example, if you don’t have an estate plan and you become unable to care for yourself, or if you were to pass away, your minor children would be in need of a guardian. If you are married, your spouse would care for your children. If you share custody with your child’s other parent, he or she would automatically step in as the sole guardian.
However, what if something happens to you and your spouse at the same time? What if, after you pass away, your surviving spouse becomes incapacitated or also passes away while the children are minors? What if you are a single parent and do not share custody with anyone?
These hypothetical situations are not easy to contemplate, but leaving your family to deal with guardianship of your children in the probate court can be even worse. Not only does a guardianship petition cost money, but there is a chance the court will award custody to someone you would not have approved of.
When I draft a will for my clients with minor children, I always include a guardianship nomination. This gives my clients the ability to nominate the people they would want to care for their children should that need ever arise. If appropriate, I also will encourage my clients to place conditions on particular guardians before they gain custody, such as that they are still married, live in southern California, or are able and willing to provide frequent contact with the child’s extended family.
I recommend having these conversations with trusted family and friends, but speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney will make your decision much easier. Knowing your children have been planned for is priceless peace of mind.
Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Brittany Britton is licensed to practice law in the state of California only.