When many people think of estate planning, they think of those documents needed to distribute their property, and possibly those that concern their own medical care. However for people with minor children, distribution of assets is not the only consideration, and probably not even the most important.
Providing for a time when a parent can't care for his or her own children is likely not a pleasant exercise, but it is a necessary one. Given this necessity, there are several things Floridians should keep in mind when compiling their estate plan.
Designating a temporary guardian is always a good idea, as in the event of a sudden need, the permanent guardians may not be reachable immediately, or may take some time to arrive to take custody of the children. In this case, authorities may place the kids with Child Protective Services until the situation can be resolved. The appointment of a short-tem guardian can obviate the need for such placement and minimize the disruption in the children's lives.
One should ensure that more than one permanent guardian is named, and probably at least three. Otherwise, the death or unavailability of the first and second choices will leave the children out in the cold. Further, if a couple is named as guardians, provision should be made in case od divorce or death of one of the spouses.
Financially, Florida parents should remember that they can appoint different individuals as custodial and financial guardians. One may wish to appoint a custodial guardian that shares one's parenting philosophy and values rather than only considering the financial status of the designee. Parents should also consider utilizing a trust rather than a will to provide financially for the kids. Wills must go through probate, which can be a lengthy process, and the court may appoint a financial guardian of its choosing if one is not designated.
In any case, estate planning is imperative, especially for parents of minor children, to secure the future for their offspring. When deciding on an estate planning course, parents should explore all legal options and so they can decide the right path for their kids.
Source: sun-sentinel.com, "6 things to avoid when naming guardians for your kids," Elise Rodriguez, Nov. 21, 2013