What do parents need to know about estate planning? How can a comprehensive estate plan help a parent prepare for incapacitation or death?

First, let’s discuss what happens without an estate plan. If you were to become unable to care for yourself or make decisions for yourself, or if you were to pass away, your minor children would be in need of a guardian. Of course, if you are married, your spouse would care for your children. If you share custody with your child’s other parent, they would step in as the sole guardian.

But what if something happens to you and your spouse at the same time? What if you are a single parent and do not share custody with anyone? What if, after you pass away, your surviving spouse becomes incapacitated or also passes away while the children are minors?

These hypotheticals are difficult to contemplate. But leaving your family to deal with guardianship of your children in the California probate court can be much worse. Not only does a guardianship petition cost money in attorney and court fees, but there is a chance the court will award custody to someone you would not have approved of. This highlights the importance of investing in an estate planning attorney that will help you express your wishes properly.

If you’re a parent to minors, your will is going to look different than someone who has adult children or no kids at all because it will include a guardianship nomination. This gives you the ability to nominate the people you would want to care for your children should that need arise. If appropriate, you may even 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. In the case that you change your mind about a particular guardian or guardians altogether, you may update your will at any time.

It’s important to consider speaking with trusted family and friends about these issues but finding an estate planning attorney you trust to help with your decisions will be the best call you can make. Knowing your children have been planned and provided for is priceless peace of mind.

Happy planning!


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.