Ensuring your children are happy, healthy, and well-taken care of is a fundamental role of parenting. Another part of that role is choosing a guardian to care for your children in the event of your death. As challenging as it can be to consider a time when you are no longer here to support your children, leaving behind a comprehensive estate plan may help alleviate some of your worries. An estate plan goes further than distributing your assets and appointing a guardian. It can be an effective tool to lay out legal specifics, such as who will have decision-making authority and who can access your finances. Beyond that, however, an estate plan acts as a platform for you to thoroughly detail your final wishes for your children.
Let us share with you some steps that you can take to ensure your estate plan leaves a meaningful legacy for your children.
1. Discuss your planning options with your experienced, local estate planning attorney.
The first step in creating an estate plan is to pick up the phone and schedule a meeting with an estate planning attorney. He or she will be able to present all of the planning options available to you and provide recommendations based on your unique situation. Without the assistance of your attorney, you may leave important information out of your documents. He or she will be able to support you through the process, answer all of your questions, and ensure your estate plan meets all state law requirements.
2. Consider whether the guardian you chose is still the right fit for the job.
It is inevitable that over the years, your circumstances will change. That is why it is important to check in on your chosen guardian from time-to-time to ensure that your decision is still the right one. When choosing a guardian, it is crucial to appoint someone whom you trust implicitly with your children’s care. Consider whether you share the same parenting goals, core values, and religious beliefs. Ask yourself whether the guardian has a strong relationship with your children. Does he or she know what motivates your children? Does he or she understand your children’s future plans and goals? You will feel more comfortable with your choice of guardian knowing the answers to these questions.
3. Evaluate whether you and your spouse agree on who to appoint as guardian.
Choosing a guardian to care for your children is a decision that should not be taken lightly. It is essential that you and your spouse are in agreement. Your estate planning attorney can provide some needed insight and advice. He or she can use the flexibility of an estate plan to help avoid a situation where one spouse “wins” the argument of who to designate as guardian. It is important that your estate plan includes both you and your spouse’s wishes for your children’s care and future goals.
If you have questions on how to move forward in creating your estate plan, do not wait to let us know. We are the estate planning attorneys here to help you.