Earlier this morning I read the email newsletter titled Counsel to Counsel Trusts & Estates Law Alert sent by Martindale-Hubbell. Martindale-Hubbell is a comprehensive legal resource company. This email Alert provides summaries of court cases, IRS rulings and essays that are timely, significant and relevant to the trusts, estates, probate and related fields of law. It is a valuable service.
The article Protecting Your Most Precious Assets…Your Children, by Vonda W. Chappell, was most meaningful to me. It offers important insights and so I share it. I hope it will be meaningful and useful to readers.
Protecting Your Most Precious Assets…Your Children http://www.martindale.com/trusts-estates-law/article_Kaufman-Canoles-A-Professional_1505242.htm
I share a few key paragraphs
A guardian is the person or persons who are nominated in the Last Will and Testament of a decedent to provide for the care and custody of minor children in the event that neither of the natural parents survive until all of their minor children attain the age of majority. In essence, a parent is being asked to name a substitute for himself.
The nomination of a guardian can be a complicated decision for many reasons, including the advancing age of parents, the fact that potential guardians do not live in the immediate area and the lack of trusted and responsible family members and friends.
Even if the financial assets are available to a guardian to provide for the physical and educational needs of a child, it can be physically and emotionally draining (for elderly relatives) to manage all of the demands……
There are many factors and questions for a parent to consider when tasked with nominating a guardian for his or her minor children.
- Do your children have a good relationship with the guardian(s)?
- What type of lifestyle will the guardian provide for your children? Consider the guardian’s work schedule and career demands, religious beliefs and practices, disciplinary standards and behavioral expectations, etc.
- Where does the guardian live?
- Will the guardianship place a financial burden on the guardian? Although most parents plan to provide for the financial security of their surviving children through life insurance or accumulated wealth, that may not always be the case, and the financial demands of raising a child may deplete the assets left for a minor beneficiary before he or she becomes financially independent…. The guardian should be someone who is willing to confidently speak on behalf of a minor child and demand that his or her wellbeing be of the utmost importance.
When nominating a guardian, it is best to name at least one alternate guardian to serve in the event that the primary designee is or becomes unable to serve in this capacity. Additionally, since circumstances are likely to change with the passage of time, parents should be vigilant in reviewing their estate planning documents as the circumstances may require. Finally, it is imperative that a parent clearly and frankly communicate their wishes and expectations to the individuals nominated as guardians in order to ensure that they are willing to assume the tremendous responsibility that may be required of them. It is no easy task, but recognizing the importance of providing for the protection and care of your most valuable assets, your children, by properly crafting and updating your estate plan as necessary is a endeavor that every parent should embrace.
Readers needing to identify and appoint guardians would do well to follow the guidance Chappell presents.