How do I ensure my children are taken care of?
If you are a parent of a minor child, your Guardianship Planning is probably the most important element of your estate plan. All parents want to ensure that their children are cared for by someone who loves them, will nurture them, and help raise them according to your values. By electing a Guardian (or two) to care for your children, you can have the peace of mind that there will be someone to take care of your children if neither parent is able to do so. Read more on the selection of a guardian here.
Estate planning provides you with the opportunity to elect guardians however, in California, a court proceeding is still required to make the guardianship formal. The person that the court approves as "guardian of the person" will be responsible for raising your child until the minor becomes an adult.
During estate planning, you will also be encouraged to appoint temporary guardians for those times when neither parent can get back to their children. Think of these persons as your emergency contact. The temporary guardians should be close to home so they can get to your children quickly, before protective services must take your children into protective custody. A temporary guardian can be an adult who can keep the children safe for a few days until your named guardians can arrive.
Who takes care of the money I leave to my children?
As parents, you will want to make sure that your children's financial future is protected so that there are sufficient funds for raising your children and for sending them to college, amongst other things. Designating a guardian to be responsible for your child(ren)'s inheritance will ensure their financial needs are safeguarded. This person, a "guardian of the estate," may or may not be the same person who has custody of your children.
Fortunately, estate planning can by-pass the need to ask the probate court to appoint a guardian of the estate because the money you leave to your children will be held by the Trust and the Successor Trustee can take care the of the children's money.
Thinking about raising someone else’s children stops us all in our tracks. It feels like a heavy burden to bear but it also feels like something you must do. If you have been named as a guardian in the Will of the children’s parent and the children’s other parent is unable or unwilling to care for the children, you can petition the court to become their guardian.
If you are prepared to provide for the children’s general welfare, education, and medical needs, I can represent you in a petition to be appointed their guardian.