As the curtain falls on summer and the buzz of back-to-school season pervades the atmosphere, one important responsibility often gets sidelined: appointing legal guardians for your underage children. Legal guardians are the people you assign to look after your children if, under any circumstance, you’re unable to fulfill that role yourself.
In the midst of back-to-school shopping and closing out summer fun, choosing legal guardians for your kids may seem less important. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
When your children head back to school, they’re primarily under the care of others – teachers, coaches, or babysitters. However, these individuals don’t hold the legal right to take extended care of your kids in case you’re involved in an accident or uncontactable for whatever reason.
Additionally, if your children are heading off to university, your ability to make decisions for them or access their medical records during a crisis will cease unless your now-adult children establish Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives.
Don’t Depend on Informal Agreements
The old adage states that it takes a village to raise a child, and as parents, you generally have a circle of friends or family you trust to take care of your child if the need arises. However, it’s critical not to exclusively rely on these casual arrangements with loved ones to look after your kids if you’re unable to.
If you’re incapacitated in a hospital or have passed away, there’s a potential risk that your child could be placed into protective custody by social services until you recuperate, or a permanent plan is established.
Here’s the crux, though: the individual appointed by the court to care for your child might not be a familiar or beloved figure to them, but an unfamiliar person in the foster care system. Worse yet, it could be someone you’d never want to raise your kids but who is assigned by a well-intentioned court system unaware of your preferences or your visions for your children’s upbringing.
Moreover, if you neglect to assign legal guardians for your children, you risk sparking disputes among family members who wish to look after your children, potentially subjecting your loved ones to a protracted and expensive court process. It’s an unnecessary hassle that can be easily avoided. Indeed, designating more than one guardian is one of the 7 Must Dos When Naming Legal Guardian For Your Children.
Moving into deeper family dynamics, you possess intimate knowledge of your child and your family, and you understand who would be the ideal person to raise your child in your absence. Regrettably, unless you officially record your preferred guardian ahead of time, the decision about who will raise your child if you are not able to, will ultimately rest in the hands of a judge who isn’t familiar with you or your unique family’s dynamics.
Taking this into consideration, it is important to realize that appointing both short-term and long-term guardians for your children ensures they are always looked after by individuals you trust.
Now, shifting focus to a different scenario where your children are away at college, relying solely on the assumption that they’d want you to access their medical records and financial accounts during emergencies isn’t enough. Organizations such as hospitals or banks mandate legal documentation for granting necessary access. Hence, we equip all our client families with young adult planning documents for children attending college.
Thorough Protection for Your Child
To safeguard your children consistently and ensure they’re cared for by those you trust, a key step is to establish a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan®. Each Kids Protection Plan® offers the flexibility to appoint short-term emergency guardians who can immediately step in during a crisis, and long-term permanent guardians who can undertake the responsibility of raising your children if you’re unable to.
Transitioning to the specifics of My Kids Protection Plan®, it goes a step further by providing emergency ID cards. These cards contain directives for first responders to reach out to your child’s guardian, should you find yourself in an accident, enabling them to be by your child’s side swiftly. In addition, all caregivers such as babysitters and nannies are provided explicit instructions on how to contact your short-term and long-term guardians.
Moving forward, it’s crucial that everyone involved in your plan possesses the necessary legal documents. This will ensure a smooth process should the need for a guardian arise, thereby creating an all-encompassing safety net for your children.
By adopting this strategy, you’ve not only legally designated guardians for your kids but also orchestrated a thorough safety blueprint to ensure their care aligns with your wishes under any circumstance.
As we shift our focus towards your college-bound children, it becomes pivotal to have young adult planning documents in place. Documents such as Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives allow you to access your kids’ accounts or make medical decisions for them, should they become incapacitated due to an illness or injury. This provides another layer of security, extending your protective umbrella as your children enter the next phase of their lives.
A Thoughtful Approach for Your Peace of Mind
At Dracheva Law, we are dedicated to securing the well-being of your children under all circumstances. As the back-to-school season approaches, don’t overlook this essential homework for parents – naming legal guardians and creating your own Kids Protection Plan®.
The first step is to go through our unique planning process to choose the right plan for you, your kids and everyone you love. We begin with a Family Wealth Planning Session™. During the Session, I get to know your family on a personal level to understand your family dynamics and your assets. I’ll share the law with you, and together we’ll look at exactly what would happen to your assets and your loved ones if something happened to you right now.
From there, we choose the right plan for you – at the right budget and that achieves your personal objectives – based on the specifics of your family situation. This ensures your kids and family are cared for and protected no matter what happens, so you can embrace the excitement of this new academic year with peace of mind.
To learn more and get started with your own Family Wealth Planning Session™, click here to schedule a complimentary discovery call. I can’t wait to serve you.
This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.