Worst Case Scenario: What Happens to Your Kids If You Haven’t Named a Guardian?

Thinking about your death is difficult, which is one of the many reasons that people sometimes avoid estate planning entirely. However, estate planning is a necessity if you want to ensure that your property is distributed how you would prefer. It is also vital when it comes to your children. Naming a guardian for your children in case the unthinkable happens is extremely important and is sometimes overlooked.

If you pass away or become incapacitated, naming a guardian to care for your children allows you to continue to have some control over your children’s upbringing. A guardian will have all of the legal rights that you would have as a parent. It helps you ensure that your children are going to a loving home that will provide for your child and take care of him or her as if they were their own. Failing to name a guardian can mean that your child’s living arrangements will be determined by a stranger — a Florida judge.

Consequences of Poor Planning for Your Children

Your children are precious. They deserve an estate plan that will address who will care for them if you are no longer able to provide for them. Many parents assume that their child will automatically go to their closest relatives, but, unfortunately, this is not always the case under Florida law. Instead, the Florida courts will step in to decide who should raise your children.

In fact, the judge can designate virtually anyone who is over 18 as the guardian for your children if both parents have passed. Generally, the judge will consider family first, but the judge will not know or appreciate which family members would be the best fit for your children.

Although the Court does have the final say regardless of your wishes, if your intentions are known through your will, then the Court will often use whoever you designate. In fact, it is rare that your choice of guardian will be ignored.

Who Should Be My Child’s Guardian?

If you do not want your children’s caretaker to be determined by the Court, you should designate a guardian in your will. You may want to consider the following factors when making this designation.

  • Your children’s relationship with a particular individual (comfort, emotions, etc.)
  • Overall values or religious beliefs
  • Financial stability
  • Temperament
  • Ability to be a good role model
  • Age, health, and energy levels
  • Commitment to bringing up a child
  • General responsibility levels

Keep in mind that once you designate a guardian, you can change your mind later or adjust if the guardian you chose is no longer fit. We can help you with this process at The Legacy Planning Law Group. Click here to learn more about our unique “Children’s Security Plan” and contact us today to get started.

Written by Legacy Planning Law Group

Legacy Planning Law Group is dedicated to working with individuals and families to help protect the assets they have built throughout their life, and make everything simpler for families who have lost a loved one. We help thoughtful people achieve the peace of mind that comes with planning their personal legacy and passing on family harmony.