Following Michael Jackson's death, much was written about his not providing for a guardianship in his Will.
Every parent of a minor child should designate, preferably in a Last Will and Testament, a guardian and two alternate guardians for their child or children. (If you do not have a Last Will and Testament, put your wishes in writing.) Do not assume that your children will go to the person you desire—if others petition the court for guardianship, it will be the judge who decides where your children go.Toronto's Globe and Mail goes at the issue in more detail with its Five steps to protect your kids after you die :
Factors to use when deciding who to name as a guardian include that person’s age, financial stability, lifestyle, religious preference, geographic location, and parenting style. Read this article for more help in choosing a guardian. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions
1) Appoint a legal guardian for children under age 18.
Choose someone to care for your children in the event that you and your spouse pass away. It should be someone you know and trust. Make sure that someone is willing, so ask them beforehand. Although this sounds like an easy step, Ms. Plant says many couples have a difficult time reaching a consensus on who that guardian should be. Without a specific provision in the will, children in Canada fall under the care of The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee, until someone is legally appointed to look after them.
2) Consider setting up trusts, so they receive inheritance over time.
If you have a young children, you might not want them to receive all of their assets at once. The danger is that at the age of 18, they could decide to drop out of university and blow the money on sports cars. You can address this in your will by stretching out the money in a trust, with specific terms and conditions on how and when this money will be received. This will give them the chance to develop some financial maturity. Because financial provisions for the care of your children are also included in the will, you could dictate in the trust how to pay for their education or health care.
3) Address future use of the family home by children and/or guardian.
If parents pass away suddenly, the practical issue of where the kids are going to live will arise. Parents should think about whether the appointed guardian has enough space in their home or is it best for the kids to continue to live in their childhood home? For example, a grandparent that is taking on three kids may have already downsized and have only one bedroom. In that case, it might be better if the guardian moved to the home of the children and lived with them there.
4) Communicate your plans to your children to avoid surprises.
For older children who can understand the concept of a will and what it means to inherit assets, it can be useful for them to know what funds are being placed into a trust and when they will get them. This will prevent them being caught by surprise. Although this can be a difficult topic to broach, parents may also want to let older children know who they have chosen as their legal guardian. For example, a single parent with a terminal illness might want to let their children know what provisions they have established upon their death.
5) Keep your will current.
Some people have wills that have not been changed in 15 or 20 years. In these cases, the documents are often no longer appropriate and fail to deal with the present stage of their life. What if parents have had another child, purchased more assets, or changed their mind on the legal guardian for their kids? Wills need to be relevant to current circumstances, ages and stages. Normally, people find they need to update and change their will every seven to 10 years. Ms. Plant's advice is to review it every three years.
Regardless of the size of your bank account, if you’ve got a child at home who depends on you, you need to have a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan® (KPP) in place to ensure her well-being and care in case you can’t be there.
A KPP begins with naming legal guardians to raise your children if anything happens to you and their mother. But, that’s just the beginning. A comprehensive KPP will also name local friends or family as guardians for the immediate/short-term care of your children so that the authorities never have to take your children out of your home and into the care of strangers. With a KPP in place, you’ll carry an ID card in your wallet listing the names and addresses of your immediate/short-term guardians as well as provide written instructions to all of the people who care for your children, such as babysitters and schools. Finally, a KPP will confidentially exclude anyone you know you would never want to serve as guardian of your children to ensure there are no court-room battles over your child’s care and will also provide detailed instructions about things like health care, education, discipline and your values, so your children are raised the way you want, no matter what.
For those thinking that this will entail great cost, I suggest that they call some lawyers and ask. In my area, I do not think anyone charges much more than $150.00 for a Will. If that is too much for a bit of peace of mind, I really do not know what to say.
Remember, if you want more information about retaining me for a case, please give me a call at 765-641-7906.