The topic of establishing guardianship for minor children can be a difficult one to broach. As a result, it’s a topic that’s often avoided, sometimes until it’s too late. Every parent needs to plan for what would happen to their children (and their money) in the unlikely event that they both became incapacitated or died at the same time. Leaving those decisions until it’s too late will cause confusion and stress in a time of overwhelming grief for both adults and children.
In the event a single parent died or became disabled, the assumption might be that the other natural parent would become the legal guardian. Exceptions might include a court order depriving a natural parent of their rights, or never-married parents without legally established custody rights. That’s why it’s so important to have your guardianship wishes established in writing in advance, ideally by agreement between both natural parents.
With or without written guardianship provisions, however, outcomes may not be assured, particularly in the event of a legal contest. A Judge could very well be the one to decide, after hearing arguments from all sides, who ultimately is appointed as guardian. If your children are of sufficient age and maturity, the Judge may take their wishes into consideration. But do you really want your children to have to advocate such important matters for themselves?
Have a conversation with your Spouse (or Ex) and include the people you’re considering appointing as Guardians. It’s important that everyone involved knows their role so that, if pressed into service, there’s greater clarity about roles and responsibilities. You’ll also want to discuss finances. One approach might be to set up a Living Trust to manage the money while appointing guardians to raise your children. This creates a ‘check and balance’ approach so you’re not giving both the person and the purse to the same people!
If your kids are old enough, you may want to bring them in on the conversation. Ask them who they would feel most comfortable with and why. This can ease any worries you may have about the person you are considering and provide insight into what’s important to your children.
Naming a trusted Financial Advisor might also be beneficial to ensure the continuity of your financial plan and sound ongoing advice. In order to ensure that there will be enough money to raise your children, you might consider the power of life insurance to create instant wealth for your children’s future financial security.
Feel free to book a no-cost consultation. We’d be happy to answer all your questions.