By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney
We all think that we are going to live a long life. We just can’t conceive the notion that our life could come to a premature end. However, a recent headline grabbed my attention and helped me realize once again the urgent need we all have to complete our Estate Planning to protect our children. The headline:
11 Children Left Behind!
According to the article, 3 married couples were killed in the crash of a small airplane in Alabama. The 3 couples all lived in Oxford, Mississippi and were returning from a dental seminar.
The question that I couldn’t help asking myself is whether these couples had protected their children through their Estate Planning. Every parent has an opportunity to designate a guardian for their minor children in the event of the parent’s death. This is done in a Last Will and Testament. By naming a guardian in their Will the parent ensures that they get to choose who will care for their children. Otherwise, formal Guardianship proceeding will have to be filed with and determined by the courts. This often leads to family fighting over who should care for the children.
Keep in mind that a designation of Guardians for minor children only takes effect when both parents die. In most cases, a surviving parent is the legal guardian already and simply keeps being the legal guardian. However, it is important to designate a guardian in the event that neither parent is available to assume the role.
Clients often ask me why a Guardian needs to be named in their Will. The reason is that a guardian becomes legally responsible for the child’s physical care, health, education, and welfare until he or she reaches 18 years of age, just like a parent is. Every minor child must have a legal guardian, whether this is parent or someone else.
As you think about how this applies to you and your family, it is important to remember that the person you choose as the Guardian for your children should have good parenting skills and values similar to your own. You should have confidence and assurance in the person you nominate. You should also talk to this person and make sure they are willing to accept responsibility for your children. Most parents, look to family members or trusted friends.
Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will answer your Idaho Estate Planning questions and will help you solve your personal estate planning needs.