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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Ryden

Estate Planning Must Haves for Parents - Even If You Have Legal Documents

Updated: Dec 13, 2021

A comprehensive estate plan -- which we refer to as a Life and Legacy Plan -- can protect what matters most to you. For many, this means everything you own and everyone you love.

Obviously, this includes providing for the care of your children as an essential piece of your peace of mind. But many parents struggle with including such provisions as naming a long-term legal guardian for their child in their plan. Even the fictional parents in the popular sitcom Modern Family struggled with this issue in a recent episode. While Jay and his new and much younger wife Gloria agonized and argued about who they should name as a legal guardian for their children, their children were left at risk as time went on. If something happened to Jay and Gloria before they decided and properly named guardians in a legal document, a judge would make the decision for them. Not ideal, under any circumstances.

Take a few minutes to consider right now: if both you and your child’s other parent were to become incapacitated or die right now, who would step forward to care for your child? Would that be who you would want to raise your child, if you could not? Is that who you would want to take care of the financial assets you are leaving behind?

And, what about the short-term? Are your children often left in the care of a babysitter who would have no idea what to do if you didn’t make it home at the end of the evening? If not, even if you have named legal guardians, your child could be taken into the care of strangers if something happens to you, while the authorities figure out what to do and who to contact.

Unfortunately, even if you have made the hard decisions and worked with a lawyer to name long-term legal guardians in a Will, your kids could still be at risk. This is because of the way in which that appointment takes effect. Being in your Will, it is only effective after you pass away. Further, a judge has to issue an Order approving the placement of your children with that appointed guardian, which can result in increased time elapsing between your passing and their placement. There are a number of scenarios however in which your children could need a short-term guardian that can take temporary custody of them based on your temporary incapacity or absence. The only way to ensure your kids are raised by the people you want, in the way you want, and never taken into the care of strangers (even temporarily) is by creating a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan, which currently only a small number of estate planning attorneys provide.

If you are ready to take that step, start by sitting down with us. As your Personal Family Lawyer, we can walk you step by step through creating a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan that not only names a legal guardian for your child in your Will, but also ensures your kids care is fully provided for, in the short-term and the long-term, in the event of your incapacity. And, if necessary, we can also ensure anyone you specifically do not want to raise your kids, never would be able to.

This article is a service of Joshua Ryden of Horizon Law Firm. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Life and Legacy Planning Session during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Life and Legacy Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.


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