Don’t you want a plan for who will take care of your young children?
If you have young children, do you care what school district you live in? Do you care who your child gets as a teacher? Their grades? What about the food they eat? Their friends? Their extracurricular activities? The answers to these are of course “yes.” So ask yourself this, if something tragic happened and your children were suddenly orphaned, wouldn’t you care about who took parental control over them? Their guardian will have an enormous impact over every aspect of your child’s life!
If you and your spouse died, the court appoints someone as guardian of your minor children. Without a will, the court will make the best determination it can. Perhaps in your family it would be blatantly obvious who should and would fit the bill. Say, for example, your parents and in-laws are retired and living in Florida, your spouse has no siblings, but your brother and his family live next door to you. Your brother has children roughly the same age as your children, you all see each other all the time, and all the kids go to the same schools. Chances are, everyone on both sides of the family will say your brother is the best option. No one fights about it, and the court approves it.
But, what if your spouse also has a brother in the area? What if your parents and your in-laws live in the area? Are there ever arguments about whose house to go to for Thanksgiving? Do you sometimes have to go to both sides of the family for special occasions? If you do not designate who you want to serve as the guardian, are you leaving behind a big court battle with legal expenses and hard feelings as sides fight to take custody of your kids? Even if it doesn’t rise to that level, are you at least leaving behind some ill will? Is it possible that your assertive and opinionated uncle will push and win custody over your shy and reserved aunt, even though your loud mouth uncle isn’t truly the best person to take care of your children?
With that in mind, it really may be worth it for you to think hard now about who you’d want to take care of your kids. Then, have a discussion with that person about the plan to ensure they are onboard and expecting the responsibility. You minimize the risk of people fighting for custody, you minimize the potential for legal fees, and you minimize the potential for resentment between family members as people generally will want to respect your known wishes. Writing those wishes down in a will not only minimizes those risks, but also maximizes the likelihood that the court will appoint the person you know to be the best choice. Does this mean a fight absolutely won’t happen? Does this guarantee everyone will act perfectly nicely with each other? Of course not – nothing is guaranteed. But, a will that designates the guardian does go a long way to minimizing those chances. And that may mean a big difference in the lives of your kids.
Want to read more of our blogs on this topic? Click here!
* The content of this page is for informational purposes only. It does not serve as legal advice and should not be taken as such. There is nothing published on this website that is intended to create an attorney-client relationship. If you have a legal issue, you should consult with a licensed attorney directly.