During the normal process of developing your personal estate plan, please do not avoid naming a guardian simply because it is not easy to imagine someone else raising your children. Imagine, instead, that if you do not name a trusted guardian – you leave the guardianship of your children up to the courts if you should pass away. It is time to think about who could step in for you – starting with your family members is the best and most obvious choice.
Keep in mind that the guardian you choose does not also have to manage your financial needs, your estate, or handle money for (or on behalf of) your children. Assuming you have life insurance and other assets set up to take care of your children, the trustee that you have chosen will be in charge of managing those assets. The person, or people, that you choose to take care of your child or children can coordinate with the trustee when it comes to money matters.
If you want to choose to name a couple, think ahead about what may happen in the future should either person die, or if they were to become separated or divorced. You can expand upon your field of options if you provide and list more than one possible guardian. That way, if the first person on your list cannot serve, you have already approved of other viable options.
If the guardian you have named does not reside within the same state as you do, be sure to include the name of someone who can take care of your child or children until that guardian can take over. Some states have an emergency guardianship proxy, or you may include this information in your Will.
It is recommended that you consult an estate planning lawyer to help you make this decision, and to ensure that the proper documents are in place to match with your wishes. Family law matters can redefine the most personal and important parts of your life. It is essential that you focus on where you want your children to be in the future – in preparation.
If you have young children and/or a special needs family member with a disability, there are additional important decisions you can make that will greatly benefit them. Even without children, having an estate plan in place removes any uncertainty and potential for conflict among your heirs while protecting your estate from the costs of intestacy and estate or inheritance taxes. If you have relocated to South Carolina it is essential that you have your out-of-state Will reviewed to ensure it complies with South Carolina state law.
The Floyd Law Firm PC can help you find the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your affairs are in order and that those you love will not have to work through the difficulty of resolving the issues of an unplanned estate – or any unforeseen circumstances leading towards the need of guardianship for yourself or a loved one.