One of the toughest decisions parents can face when putting together an estate plan is deciding who would take care of their children if something should happen to either or both parents.
No one really wants to think about the possibility of leaving their children without a parent, but it is not a decision that can be pushed off forever.
You want your children cared for and provided for when you are gone, and unless you want to leave this decision to your family, which is never a good situation, you need to explicitly name who you would want as guardian.
For many individuals, the decision is an easy one. It is the relative with whom you are the closest. However, for others, the decision is much more complicated than that.
No family is perfect, and when it comes to the important decisions of life and death, feelings can get hurt. For example, your sister might assume she will be getting your children. You, on the other hand, may feel that she could not take on the additional responsibility of parenting your three children.
The problem is, you do not want to hurt her feelings and make things very uncomfortable in the family dynamic if you were to not pick her to be your children’s potential guardian. That can lead many people to feeling pressured to make a decision that might actually not be in the best interests of your family, and that is a problem.
Do not let family pressure make your decision for you. Put your children first when faced with this decision. After all, your children’s best interests come first and foremost.
Factors to Consider
Ultimately you want your children to continue to have the type of lifestyle they currently have with you. Stability is important when it comes to children, and most parents strive to ensure that, even in the most dire of circumstances, such as the loss of a parent, their child can continue to have some type of stability.
That stability does not necessarily mean they stay in their childhood home or even in the same town. It can mean that their guardians exercise the same type of parenting style as you do, practice the same type of religious beliefs, and focus on the same morals.
Consider the type of parenting you do currently and try to find someone who closely models that lifestyle. List out the factors you consider the most important to you and the child’s other parent, and carefully examine each relative and loved one you have on your “list” for potential guardians.
It may or may not be a family member, and the fact that it is not should not sway your decision. Keep in mind you can always add provisions in your will directing the guardian to continue a relationship with loved ones and family members. You can be as creative as you need to be in your estate plan, so keep that in mind when making your selection.
Maintaining your Children’s Finances
In many situations, if you have concerns about the child’s guardian maintaining the money that is given to them through your will, you can assign a different individual to hold the child’s money in trust for him or her until he or she reaches the age of majority.
You can designate someone to be responsible for the child’s financial affairs while designating another individual to do the day-to-day care taking of your child. You can combine both duties in one position, of course, but the possibility does exist for you to separate the two if you believe conflicts of interest could exist.
Keep in mind, however, that you will want to ensure that the guardian is able to financially care for your child. Perhaps consider inserting a provision in your estate plan directing the conservator of the child’s finances to pay a monthly amount to the guardian to ensure that he or she can pay for the child’s schooling, food, or any expenses that come along the way.
As said before, you can be as creative as you need to be when preparing your estate plan. One size does not necessarily fit all, and your situation could differ drastically from another person’s. Look at what circumstances your family is facing and make sure you craft the plan that works best for you
Contact Brian M. Douglas and Associates Today
To lean more or to settle your Estate Planning needs, please call Georgia attorney Brian M. Douglas at (770) 933-9009 to schedule a consultation, or contact us online.