For parents of minor children, often the most important part of the estate plan is who you will select to care for them in the event of your death before they attain the age of majority. No child should be forced to face the loss of a parent, but the trauma is certainly multiplied when a child loses both mom and dad. Parents should put significant thought into the selection of a guardian for their minor child. Ideally, the selection would be the person most likely to raise your child in the same way you would, with a minimum of disruption. If that is not possible, Sodoma Law’s Estate Planning attorneys will discuss with you the pros and cons of your options.
Sodoma Law’s Estate Planning attorneys will address this issue as part of your overall estate plan, but we’ll also go one step further and guide you on the subject of short-term or emergency guardianship provisions. Most parents would dread the thought of their child being taken into government care while a guardian is appointed or arrives. Short-term or emergency guardianship provisions allow you to identify the people closest to your child (both physically and emotionally) as the persons to provide immediate care until a more permanent solution can be put in place. Again, the process of planning for the unexpected can prevent your child (and you) from additional stress.
These guardianships can also be known as guardianships of the person because they are concerned with the placement of the physical being of some body. They typically arise when a parent has died leaving a child less than 18 years of age. But guardianships of the person can also be necessary when an adult suffers an incapacitating injury, such as a traumatic brain injury. In those circumstances, even though the individual is over 18 years of age, a guardian of his or her person is necessary. Sodoma Law’s Estate Planning Group can help you navigate this process as well, working with the potential guardian, the affected person (ward), and the medical providers to ensure a proper guardian is appointed and that the ward can maintain as much autonomy as he or she can handle.
Finally, guardianships can also involve an individual’s estate, or their assets. A minor child who inherits property from a deceased parent will, absent other estate planning, likely need a guardian to hold and manage that property until the child attains the age of 18. Sodoma Law’s Estate Planning Group will discuss options for parents to avoid the need for these ‘guardians of the estate’ by suggesting other alternatives for leaving property to minors – such as trusts. But, in the event a guardian of the estate is necessary, our attorneys can assist with that process as well.
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