Even If You Don’t Have a Will Your Children Will Be Raised by Family Members

Myth: Your Nomination of Guardian for Your Minor Children is A Responsible Act You Must Undertake. 

If you have minor children no matter what your net worth is you need an estate plan. The place to nominate their guardian (the person who will make decisions concerning their care, upbringing and education) is your Will. If you do not take the time to designate who should serve as guardian well meaning family members and friends will come forward after your death to claim that responsibility – and they will do that out of goodness.  It is a terrible responsibility to throw the choice of who will be guardian on surviving family members – that is your responsibility. 

Raising someone else’s children is a tremendous responsibility and the choice of who should serve in that capacity takes time – typically the guardian will share your values system, religious belief and attitude towards education.  Ideally the guardian should also share your money value system – what it is ok to spend money and what it is not – making parental decisions is very subjective.  We all have our own ideas on whether or not it is appropriate to send a child to private school, summer camp, vacations, purchase of automobile, put down payment on a child’s home or pay for post graduate education.

Sitting down annually and writing a letter to the person you have selected is a wise idea

 – that letter can be maintained with your legal documents and replaced annually.  It is the guardian’s guide to your child’s personality – what to watch out for and what to protect.  When choosing a guardian, if you name a couple – your sister and brother-in-law, you must weigh the pros and cons – the pro is if the couple remains married and both have legal responsibility as guardian to make decisions then they will both feel actively involved in your child’s upbringing.  As legal guardian if there is a medical emergency on the school playground wither one of them can act.  Either one of them can attend school conferences.  The con is that if they divorce or if one of them dies the other, as legal guardian, has standing in custody matters.

Patricia Annino is a nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning.  She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about.  For more visit:  www.patriciaannino.com


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