Are you the parent of minor children? If yes, then they are your most valuable treasure. So, what arrangements have you made for their care should something happen to you and their other parent?
As you can do with your own personal, health care and financial decisions, would you rather select the guardians (i.e., back-up parents) yourself, or let a probate judge make the selection without your input? Only through proper legal planning can you select the guardians you desire for your children.
There are two critical choices commonly faced by parents of minor children. First, who will take care of my minor children, if orphaned, and, second, who will manage their inheritance?
If you are separated, divorced, or were never married to the surviving biological parent of your shared minor children, then that parent will continue to be their guardian, absent a court-proven case of unfitness. Nevertheless, you will want to make prudent choices regarding guardianship should your minor children become orphaned.
While every family situation is unique, here are some general practical pointers to consider when selecting guardians for your minor children:
- Select guardians who share your faith, values, and life priorities, and already have an established positive relationship with your minor children;
- Consider, when selecting a married family member, appointing the family member only, in case your family member predeceases or they divorce;
- Make sure your legal plans provide for the compensation of the guardians, or at least that the inheritance is available to cover all legitimate expenses incurred when rearing your minor children; and
- Obtain permission of the selected guardians before appointing them in your legal instruments.
Great care must be taken when selecting a financial fiduciary to administer and distribute the inheritance. Simply put, a fiduciary is a person or institution legally responsible for the financial affairs of another. Fiduciaries are held to the highest standards of care and loyalty in this role.
As you can see, selecting guardians and fiduciaries is essential for the physical and financial well-being of your minor children. Few decisions in life are more important. Only you can make these decisions through proper estate planning.