• Holly Hurley, Esq.

Estate Planning Must Haves for Parents - Even If You Have Legal Documents

A comprehensive estate plan can protect what matters most to you. For many, this means the people you love and the things you own.

This also includes providing for the care of your children as an essential part of your peace of mind. But many parents struggle with naming legal guardians for their children in their estate plan. The truth is, however, the longer you put off this decision, the longer your children are left at risk that if something happened to you before you decide on and properly name guardians in a legal document, a judge would make the decision for you. Not ideal, under most circumstances.

Take a few minutes to consider: if something were to happen to you and your spouse or co-parent right now, who would step forward to care for your child? Would it be your first choice? Is that also who you would want to take care of the financial assets you are leaving behind? And, even if you think the person who you would want raising your child would step forward, would someone challenge it?

And, what about the short-term? Are your children often left in the care of a babysitter who would have no idea what to do if you didn’t make it home at the end of the evening? If not, even if you have named legal guardians, your child could be taken into the care of strangers if something happens to you, while the authorities figure out what to do.

Even if you have named legal guardians in your Last Will and Testament, your kids could still be at risk of being taken into the care of child protective services in the short-term if something happened to you. That's because your Will does not take into account what happens if you become incapacitated, or if your named guardians all live far from your home. Additionally, it wouldn’t protect against anyone who may challenge your decisions. This is why it's important to not only name your legal guardians in your Will, but to also have a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan which includes temporary (short-term) guardians who have your authority to take temporary custody of your children if something happened to you, until your long-term legal guardians can take over.

To ensure that your children would be cared for by the people you'd want, both in the short-term (so that they're never taken into the care of protective services) and the long-term (so that they'd be raised by the people you want, in the way you want), create a comprehensive

Kids Protection Plan® with an estate planning attorney who can walk you through this important process that not only names a legal guardian for your children in your Will, but also ensures your children's care is fully provided for, in the short-term and the long-term, and in the event of your incapacity. If necessary, you can also confidentially exclude anyone from assuming those roles.

Working with a trusted estate planning attorney will help ensure that your family is protected and cared for.

This article is a service of Holly B. Hurley, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. If you'd like to set up a free 15-minute phone consultation, or your Family Wealth Planning Session, click here.

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