You may already be very conscious of the fact that everyone — regardless of their age or wealth — should have an estate plan. Accidents can happen in a flash and make the unthinkable a reality, so it’s always best to be prepared.
But what about “micro estate planning“? If you have children, this is something you may need to add to your existing estate plans.
Traditionally, estate plans are focused on long-term results — especially where the guardianship of children is concerned. If you die, your estate plans will help the court determine your wishes regarding your children’s care. Courts usually adhere to a parent’s wishes, so the guardian you select will most likely be the person who guides your children to adulthood.
What happens, however, to your children before the court gets involved? If you’re like many people, you may live some distance from your nearest relatives and the person you most likely want to see as your children’s guardian.
If something happens to you while you’re on your way home from work or out at the theater, would your babysitter know where to turn? Would someone be there to take care of your children until your relatives and chosen guardian arrive?
If not, your children could be caught up in a catastrophic whirlwind of events. If there’s no one with legal authority to take custody of your children, your children may be handed over to child protective services until the guardian is available. In some cases, the children may have to stay in custody of foster parents until after the court has a chance to review your will.
This could be incredibly traumatic on your children — especially if they’re already coping with your death. It’s possible, however, to minimize all this with the right steps. An estate planning attorney can create a document that will direct the interim care of your children until the guardian can take over.
For example, your care plan might call for your children to be left with your neighbor while your sister, their guardian, is contacted. You can provide this document to anyone who watches your children. If something terrible happens, your children will have the best protection available.
Planning for all the “what if” situations is what estate planning is all about — so take this opportunity to update your estate plans today.