Justin Jeppesen: You Named Guardians in Your Will? Great, Did You Make One of These Common Mistakes?

Most of the time, it is difficult to imagine our own passing, let alone imagining who we will trust to raise our kids if we did die. This decision can sometimes be made hastily and only cover the surface level. Here is a list of a few common mistakes that could be lurking in your plan.

Couples vs. Individual.           Did you name a couple to act as guardians? Do you really want both people in the couple to serve as guardians, regardless of death or divorce? Have said what should happen if the couple broke up or one of the partners in the couple died? This happens all the time.  Parents say they want a couple to be the guardians for their kids, but fail to consider what should happen if the couple breaks up or dies.

I mean, do you really want your sister’s husband (or your brother’s wife) raising your kids?

Sometimes yes, but often, no. That’s not what you meant at all.

So don’t make this mistake. When naming a couple to serve as guardians, make sure to be clear about what you really mean.

Only naming one possible guardian.   What if something happens to your only guardian? Or what happens if he or she decides that it is not a great idea to act as guardian? Then all the work and expense you put into naming a guardian was for nothing. Why? Because a public court proceeding will determine who will act as guardian to your minor children. In addition to that, anyone in the world can apply for this role. You no longer have a voice in the matter. Additionally, a judge, who does not know you or your wishes, will be making the decision.

Considering financial resources when deciding who should raise your children.      Your guardians do not have to, and often should not, be financial decision makers for your kids.

That is not a typo. The mistake is considering financial resources when deciding who should care for your kids.  Your guardians don’t have to provide the financial resources, you do. You are the parent, it is your responsibility. Admit it, if you have thought about all of the possible people who could raise their kids if something happens to you, you have thought…

“I just love Keith and Heather, but they really don’t have enough money.”

Stop right there.  Keith and Heather don’t have to have enough money to raise your kids, they just have to have enough love to love them the way you would.

It’s up to you to leave enough financial resources behind for your version of Keith and Heather to comfortably care for your children with all the love they can.

Also, you can appoint someone other than the guardians to oversee the money, if you choose.

Not setting up a trust for your minor kids.     Failing to do this means the Court will distribute your money to your kids as soon as they turn age 18. If you’ve made this mistake, the money you are leaving to your kids is at risk. It’s possible that someone you wouldn’t choose will handle it for your kids and when they receive it at 18, there is no supervision. What would you do with your money if you received it at age 18 and you were dealing with the loss of your parents?

It’s not worth it. You’ve worked too hard for it. Don’t mess it up now. Make sure you get the assets you are leaving behind for your kids handled.

Confidential Exclusion of Guardian.  Is there someone in your life who you know you would never want raising your kids? Do they look good on paper? Remember, a judge that does not know you or your family may be the one selecting your guardians for you.

If this resonates with you, you need to be document it (confidentially is fine). Have it prepared so that in the event something happens to you, this person could not get appointed by the Court to raise your children.

Heck, you may not even want this person having any relationship with your children.

You’ve got to document it or exactly what you don’t want to happen, could happen.

Only naming guardians for the long-term.      Did you make any arrangements for the short term? What if you were in an accident? What would happen in those immediate hours until your permanent guardians could arrive?

If you work with a traditional lawyer who does not have specific training planning for the needs of parents with kids at home, your legal documents will only name guardians for the long-term.

They won’t make any provision whatsoever for those key immediate hours after something happens.

Your kids could be taken into the care of strangers. The authorities would have no choice but to bring your kids into a foster care situation, even temporarily, while they figure out what to do.

It’s too risky. You never want that to happen to your kids, I know.

So let’s make sure it doesn’t happen.

Call Jeppesen Law to schedule your Free Initial Consultation and we’ll make sure you’ve named the right people to raise your kids, documented it properly, and that your kids will never be taken care of by anyone you don’t want or taken out of your home even for a minute. 208-477-1785