Children’s Protection Planning

Who Would Take Care of Your Children if Something Happens to You?

As a parent, your number one responsibility is to take care of your children. One of the most often neglected responsibilities of parents is creating a will or other legal tool that will specifically name who you want to be the legal guardians of your children should something happen to you. If you don’t have someone named, a judge will choose who they feel will do the best job. Of course, since they don’t have any personal knowledge of your children or your family, it is very likely that they will choose someone that you wouldn’t want.  Don’t leave such an important decision to a judge.  Take control of the situation yourself!

Did you know that nearly three out of four parents have not yet named legal guardians for their children?  Of those who have, most have made at least 1 of the 6 common mistakes most parents (and their lawyers!!!) make when naming guardians.

Just imagine, most parents think long and hard about something as simple as who will babysit their kids, which daycare or school they will attend, which doctor they will go to, and much more. While parents go to great lengths to make sure they are making the right decisions in these areas, they all too often overlook very important decisions — who will take care of our children if something should happen to us?  Who has our authority to make medical decisions or temporarily take care of our children if there is an accident and we cannot be reached?  If we are in a car accident, how will emergency services know that we have minor children and who to call?

Remember, choosing legal guardians isn’t just important for the unlikely event that both parents die early. The guardian will also have legal authority to make medical decisions and take temporary care of the children should you have an accident or otherwise become unavailable. To put it simply, setting a legal guardian for your children is an essential part of good parenting.

If you fail to set up legal guardianship for your children and the unthinkable occurs, here is what could happen:

  • Your children may be placed into the Florida Department of Children and Families until a judge can assign a guardianship. Even if you have a guardian named in a normal will, they may end up here until the will can be found and enforced.
  • Your children could be placed with that one person in your family you would never want raising them.
  • A judge whom you have never met, and who has never met your children or other family members, will decide who will be raising your children going forward (this may well be the last person you would ever want).
  • Between 3-5% of the total value of your assets could be lost due to the probate process. This court process can also tie up these assets for months or even years, leaving your children without the resources that are needed to be properly cared for.
  • Without proper planning, your children will get a check for any assets that are left when they turn 18. There will be no restrictions in place to ensure your children use the money as you would have wanted. (There are many unscrupulous people out there who make it their business to review public records to find out what 18 year olds are coming into money)

Most estate planning attorneys don’t address all of these types of issues. This is largely because they don’t perform estate planning through the eyes of a parent. This is why we offer our clients a Children’s Protection Plan with every estate plan we prepare when the family has young children. Let us provide you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing your children will be in the best possible position should the unthinkable occur.

Children’s protection planning is not something you want to leave unsettled a day longer than necessary.  Contact us by phone or email to set up a consultation so you can have your children’s future secured.