Why You Must Designate a Legal Guardian For Your Children Before Something Happens to You
WHY? Because if you don’t and (God Forbid) something happens to you, the Court will choose for you. (Courts don’t always make the best decisions, and probably not the decision you would have made)
Most of us spend so much time worrying about which day care is safest, or how to find a baby sitter we can truly trust with our children. Our children are our most precious gift so we must be certain they will be safe and sound while we are away. This could be a trip to the grocery store, an entire day at the office or a weekend business retreat. Whatever the circumstances when you have to trust someone else to care for your children how do you decide who is best suited.
Day Care Centers and schools have you designate other members of the family who can perform certain tasks like pick up your child in case of an illness when they can’t reach you. But in the case of your babysitter have you provided that person with enough information to keep your kids out of foster care if you can’t make it home.
Consider this: It’s date night. You leave your children with the sitter and just a short time later you and your spouse are killed instantly in a collision in which your car and everything in it is destroyed by fire. Of course, you don’t get home when you were expected. Your cute and responsible babysitter has kept your kids from being upset and she even called her mom to come over, but neither of them have any idea what to do if you don’t come home at all. They have called and called your cell phones but of course no one is answering. Finally, the hour is late and they don’t know what else to do but report that you are missing to the authorities.
YOUR BABYSITTER HAS NO OTHER CHOICE BUT TO CALL THE POLICE AND REPORT YOU MISSING
Your babysitter has no choice but to call the police, after all you are “missing”. When the police arrive what do you think they will (or can) do? The only information your babysitter has is the name of the restaurant you were going to and your cell numbers in case something happened to the kids. No information to assist them, the police will have to call the Division of Children and Family Services (Family Services). Family Services will pick up your children and take them to their facility for now. Even assuming your kids are school age and Family Services can contact their school for additional contact information those lists are usually pretty short and only include relatives who live in town. Maybe you are lucky and have someone close by to whom Family Services will release the children. Otherwise, you have the same issues with Family Services taking your children to foster care.
PLANNING IS HIGHLY UNDERRATED – WE ALL NEED A PLAN
Lack of prior of planning makes this an inevitable situation for yours and every other family who refuse to acknowledge that this could ever happen to them. Finally the court will have to decide where your children should live until they become adults. Hopefully you have planned for your children to have money necessary to provide for them in your absence, otherwise this could create a financial crisis for someone willing to take on the responsibility of raising your kids.
YOU CAN PREVENT THE WORST POSSIBLE SITUATION FOR YOUR CHILDREN FROM EVER BECOMING A REALITY
So what can you do to prevent this from happening?
First call us. We have a comprehensive “Babysitter” fact sheet you can start with to list all of your personal contacts, emergency numbers, medications etc. just in case your babysitter has to locate someone to care for your children in case of an emergency.
Second, you should have a Temporary Guardian designation to leave with your babysitter, and of course, your designated temporary guardian. This is easy to prepare and will make a huge difference in your children’s lives if something happens to prevent you from returning to them. We can prepare this for you in our office at no charge. Just call for a quick appointment. You will leave with a great sense of relief knowing that your chosen caregivers know who you designate to care for your children in the worst possible situation when
you can no longer be there for them.
Temporary is Helpful But You Need a Long Term Plan for Your Family
Finally, you need a long term plan for the care of your children. Your temporary guardian should be someone immediately available in case of an emergency where one or both of you are unable to communicate your wishes, including your untimely death. This is a hard subject to wrap your head around, but you have to do it for the sake of your kids. That guardian should also have all information concerning your choice for a “permanent guardian” for your children and personal representative(s). If you have a Trust there is no need for any of this to ever be discussed inside a courtroom, because all of your designations are in writing and anyone with a role is aware of your wishes before hand.
We can create your “Grand” Family Estate Plan to incorporate your wishes for temporary guardianship, permanent guardianship and the protection and ultimate distribution of your assets. We have resources to refer you to experts to see that you begin to create an estate that you and your family can rely on in the long term. We can help you create a plan for your family that will assure that in the event of your death, your children are well cared for and loved.
IT’S TIME FOR ACTION
But, the action has to come from you. Deep down you know you should be doing something to protect your family and your assets, but you just don’t take the time. Poor planning could be the destruction of everything you ever dreamed of for your family. Let’s be honest, you may never find yourself in this situation and God willing you never will. However, there is no harm in planning ahead in case the worst should ever happen. We can provide you with a Temporary Guardianship form (notarized and legal) that you can leave with your kids caregivers in case the worst should happen and you don’t make it home one day. We can help you appoint a permanent guardian as well. Your permanent guardian should be someone who can have access to assets sufficient to provide for your children until they become adults. A family trust is the perfect vehicle to protect your family into the future. We would love to help you prepare for the future of your family. Call us for an appointment at (801) 485-3717.