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Who Will Take Care of Your Children in Your Absence?

Seeing the birth of your first child probably resulted in a sudden and substantial maturation on your part. Apart from the baby food, diapers, and putting a roof over your little one’s head, it is also important to find time to draft an estate plan. This plan should, at the very least, contain your Last Will and Testament so your property goes to your intended beneficiaries. 

That’s not the principal reason you need to get on top of your estate plan as soon as you have children, though. It’s uncomfortable to think about, but who would take care of your child if something were to happen to both you and the other parent? To avoid a potentially stressful and messy court process over a successor guardian for your child, you need to make a few guardianship designations in more than one estate planning document. 

Name a Guardian in Your Will

One important thing a Will can accomplish is naming a guardian for your child. This is the person who would raise your child if you and the other parent were to suddenly pass away. Without taking care of this, you run the risk of the court naming someone you wouldn’t otherwise choose to be the successor guardian. 

However, your Will is a testamentary document, meaning it only goes into effect when you die. How can you prepare for a situation where you are alive but unable to care for your child?

Standby Guardianship

This legal document goes into effect upon a triggering event—not simply in the event of your death. A triggering event in a standby guardianship could be a doctor’s determination that you’ve reached incompetency or, simply, your written consent for the commencement of the standby guardianship after you become debilitated. To be able to appoint a standby guardian, you must be considered a “qualified parent.” Receiving this designation means a physician has verified that you have a progressive or chronic medical condition from which you are not likely to recover. 

Minor Child Power of Attorney

Unlike the standby guardianship, the minor child power of attorney does not need a specific triggering event to go into effect. You, as the parent, have a fair amount of flexibility to decide the conditions under which this legal document is activated. Many parents use this in the event they are traveling outside the country and their children need someone authorized to make a legal decision on their behalf. You are able to give an agent all legal authority over your children or only relegate certain powers.

We Will Help You Figure Out Your Estate Plan

It’s entirely possible that you don’t need any of the estate planning documents we covered in this blog post. We’re 100 percent sure, though, that you need some form of an estate plan. The best method for making one that fulfills your objectives and takes care of your loved ones is by meeting with an attorney who has experience making estate plans. 

Norton Pelt understands the importance of an effective estate plan for our clients. You deserve peace of mind, and you can achieve that by knowing exactly who would take care of your children if you were to be gone tomorrow. Please get in touch with us through the website to schedule a consultation, which is currently free for first responders, nurses, and other medical staff!

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Norton Pelt, PLC

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