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Have You Named a Legal Guardian for Your Kids?

Have You Named a Legal Guardian for Your Kids?

What happens to your children if the worst happens to you? Naming a Legal Guardian for your kids is one of the most important steps you can take to protect their future – and give yourself Peace Of Mind. Most people do not like to think about the potential that the unexpected can happen – they could suffer an accident or become suddenly ill. Yet, on the chance it does happen, it can be critically important for you to have made decisions to protect your children.

At The Siegel Law Group, we work with families to create Estate Plans that specifically provide direction on what should happen to your children should something happen to you. Contact our Estate Planning Attorney for one-on-one guidance and advice.

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Who Will Care for Your Children If You Cannot?

It can be a critical but difficult decision to make. Consider the person who will care for your child should you die unexpectedly. Answer this key question:

Who will continue to love and raise your children in a similar style to how you are raising them now?

In the back of your mind, you may believe you know who you wish to take over parenting if something occurs. You may have a few people on the list who you do not want to have that opportunity. The goal is to know who will not only provide your children with care but also be willing to do so in a way that honors your wishes.

It is also essential to ask BEFORE you name your family member or other adult as your child’s legal guardian in case you are not here to care for them. For example, if you expect your sibling to raise your child, make sure they want and are able to do so. In some situations, they may be honored that you trust them with your children’s future but simply do not feel they can take on the responsibility. Create a list of your expectations and goals for your children, and the resources your children will have and then begin talking to those you are considering to determine which is the best decision for all involved.

Have a conversation with the person you are considering naming your child’s legal guardian. Consider talking about topics such as:

  • Educational goals and styles
  • Behavioral handling
  • Concerns with relationships
  • Communication styles
  • Religious upbringing
  • Needs related to healthcare

The more information you discuss about your child’s future with your family members now, the better you can feel about making this decision. If you decide to choose someone that is not a member of the family, it may also be important to ensure they can establish a positive relationship with the child. Do they know your child? Do they get along? Can they respect each other?

It is critical to have a frank conversation with whoever you expect to be named for such a critical role in your child’s future. You also need to be prepared to explain why you selected one person over the other.

What Is a Legal Guardianship Plan?

Once you know who you want to be your child’s Legal Guardian if you cannot care for them, the next step is to talk to your Estate Planning Attorney about your decisions. Just having these wishes, expectations and conversations is not enough. You need to have a formal, legal plan that outlines several key things:

  • Who will be legally responsible for your child and all decisions regarding your child if you die or are unavailable to care for them while they are a minor?
  • Are you considering setting up a trust that will help fund the support being provided? If so, you need to determine what type of trust fund is best. You also need to consider if there will be a third party involved to monitor the use of the funds.
  • What secondary individuals will you name to provide for your child’s care should there be a need? You need a backup guardian because the unexpected can happen. 

A Guardianship Plan should carefully outline all your expectations, goals and resources for the person who will provide care for your child. This is a critical step in ensuring that your child gets the type and level of care you want for their future.

You may also wish to include additional statements or requests. This could include details about the financial management of trust funds, information about medical and educational goals as well as what type of rearing your child receives. These types of requirements may not be enforceable, but ultimately what is most important is having a conversation with the person you trust with your child’s future about what you want and need for your child and ensuring they know exactly what you would like for them to do.

It’s Not Negotiable

It is critical to remember that having a Legal Guardianship Plan is not something to put off. It is not negotiable in any way. The fact is, if you do not have this plan in place and the unexpected happens, your child’s future is fully in the hands of the court.

This could mean that anyone in your family could petition the court for your children. It could mean that the court has to decide between one family member and another without any guidance from you. It could mean that an ex-spouse or family member you do not trust is named by the courts as your child’s legal guardian. If you are unable to provide insight and guidance, your child’s future is dependent on what a judge – who does not know you or your family – decides is best.

With so much on the line, it is critical to set up a consultation to discuss your child’s needs and your goals with an Estate Planning Attorney. Talking to impartial but expert legal professionals helps you to flesh out what should be a part of your Legal Guardianship Plan as well as steps to build financial support for your child should this guardianship be activated.

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Call THE South Florida Estate Planning Attorneys – The Siegel Law Group

Thinking about not being around to raise your child is not easy, and this is not an easy decision for anyone to make. No one wants to think about not being there to support their child or having to trust anyone else, even a family member, to provide care to their child. Yet, the decision should be made now. Once you put a Legal Guardianship Plan in place, you and your family understand your priority to protect your child’s future. It is certainly worth the time and effort to have that type of Peace Of Mind.

Call The Siegel Law Group in Boca Raton at 561-576-6206 to schedule a complimentary consultation, or submit our online contact form to schedule a consultation today. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. 

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