Estate planning allows you to decide how your assets should be distributed upon your death. For parents of minor children, this is not always their biggest concern. So, Estate Planning also allows you to decide who will raise your children if you, or both you and your spouse, pass away while your children are still minors. For many of us, myself included, this is our biggest “What If” question. What if I were to pass away, who would raise my kids? Would my family fight over them? Even worse, what if no one decided they wanted to raise my children? Who can afford the extra mouths to feed?
Unfortunately, dying does not just happen to people that have lived a long and full life. It can happen to anyone at any time. Many times death proves to be a major hurdle for the families members left behind if someone has not left a detailed plan. If you do not have a Will the state will provide one for you, which we covered in this previous blog post.
Idaho’s intestate estate laws and a probate judge will decide who will get your assets if you die. More importantly, if you don’t create a plan that same judge will decide who will raise your minor children. On the surface, that does not seem too bad of an idea. Upon further examination that can be an unnerving thought. Think about those people who are in your family. Is there someone that you absolutely know you would trust your children with? Would a judge, who does not know you, feel the same?
Many people also have family members, who on paper, look like a perfect fit. But, you know that you would never want your children raised by them. There can be a multitude of reasons for your decision, but if you never legally voice that opinion, your decision is disregarded. Think about that.
Here are some key talking points if you decide you want to name Guardians for your children:
Asking someone to be God-Parent means nothing legally without the proper documentation;
Consider what factors are important to you that you would like to see in your Guardians, read this article on mistakes made while naming Guardians;
Consider whether you like someone as a couple, or just one person as an individual as guardian. Consider how that dynamic would change if death or divorce were to occur;
Don’t consider financial capability of a Guardian. You will take care of that. Even if you don’t have assets, term life insurance is generally very inexpensive. Be an adult, buy it;
If the person(s) you want to raise your children are terrible managers of money, we can split those responsibilities up between Guardian of the child and Conservator of the child’s money, so please don’t consider financial capability of a potential Guardian;
Do NOT feel obligated to “give” your children to anyone because you might hurt their feelings. You will be gone and you can rest easy knowing that your children are raised by those you feel will do the best job;
Naming Guardians is the most effective way to stop a family feud before it arises. Families fight over children more than they fight over money;
If you fail to name a Guardian, anyone in the world can apply for the position;
If you fail to name a Guardian, anyone in the world can apply to be managers of your children’s inheritance;
If you fail to name a Guardian and your child is 14 years old or older, the judge will heavily lean on that child’s preference for Guardian (Now re-read #8, scary thought); and
These documents are private until you pass away, no one has a right to read them, so you do not have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings.
Jeppesen Law’s focus is on Estate Planning for Parents of Minor Children, we understand your needs and concerns. Work with us and we'll put together a plan that works for you and your loved ones. 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