Planning For Families With Minor Children
When Parents Leave a Will
Protect your minor children by having a properly drafted Last Will and
Testament. Parents have the option of naming a guardian for their child
in their respective wills. Ideally, parents would nominate the same guardian
in their separate wills. A court must still approve the parents’
choice. However, probate courts almost invariably honor the parents’
wishes in appointing a guardian, unless the person they've selected
is grossly unfit.
Who Should You Choose as Guardian of Your Minor Children?
Your first instinct would be to look at family and close friends, but sometimes
that does not yield very many promising prospects. The choice may not
be easy, but it is imperative that you make it now before it’s too
late. If you don’t name a guardian in a valid Will, you will have
no say in who the judge appoints to take care of and raise your children.
When Parents Don’t Leave a Will
When parents don’t leave a will regarding the care of their minor
children, the court will decide on a guardian based on the best interest
of the child. The "best interests" criteria is similar to what
a court might use when selecting a custodial parent in a custody fight.
Ideally, judges want to move a child into the care of a guardian the child
knows very well. This minimizes the disruption in his or her life at a
traumatic time. Family members are usually preferred, and they have the
right to petition the court for the appointment.
Management of Inheritances
When a child inherits assets from his or her deceased parents, the funds
are devoted to his or her care. Some parents name separate individuals
to care for their child and to oversee his or her financial needs - this
is called a custodian. Parents have the right to name the same person
to both roles, but a court must approve the appointment of the custodian
just as it must approve the guardian. A custodian almost always has to
report to the court on an annual basis, giving a detailed accounting of
the child’s assets.
Death of One Parent
When parents don’t die together in a common accident or disaster,
the surviving parent always retains custody of the child; this is not
a guardianship situation. Another individual would be appointed as guardian
only if the second parent dies. If the second parent leaves a will naming
a guardian and custodian, those wishes usually guide the court’s
decision. If the second parent to die does not have a will naming a guardian
and custodian, the court might look to the guardian and custodian named
in the first parent’s will.
Foster Parents - A Potential Disaster in the Making
If you do not name a guardian in your will, Child Protective Services will
pick up your minor children and place them with Foster Parents even if
a loving family member comes forward to take care of the children. You
have no guarantee whether your children will remain together or be split
up. A judge will have the children stay with the Foster Parents until
a family member or someone who knows and loves your children files a petition
with the court to be appointed as the guardian of your children. This
is timely and this is expensive. This may be avoided by naming a guardian
in your will.
Act today, protect your children today!
If you have minor children, your will can never be created too soon, which
is why it's important to discuss your situation with a lawyer. If
you would like more information on how I might be able to help, contact
D'Onofrio Law Office, P.C. today. I always offer my clients a complimentary initial consultation.
Hug your children today then
contact my law office today to discuss your future plans with a
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