For parents, we know that we need to estate plan. And, if you have already started, congratulations! But, one thing that you may not have added to your estate plan is a guardian. This is especially true if you did your estate plan yourself or used a cheap online estate planning provider.
What is a guardian?
For parents, a guardian is the person that you select to care for your kids when you pass. They are responsible for all the things you do for your kids, care for them, feed them, ensure their safety and wellbeing and, of course, make educational, financial and healthcare decisions for them. In an estate plan, should you become incapacitated or pass away, this person will step into your shoes.
What about my spouse?
If only one parent is incapacitated or dies, the other parent will become the child’s sole guardian automatically. However, if you pass away together, or you both pre-decease your children, then, without a guardian in your estate plan, your children will become wards of Tennessee, and some random family court judge will decide their fate. This may mean that your children spend time in foster care, even if a family member steps up to take care of your kids.
Just one guardian?
When thinking about naming a guardian, parents should think about more than one guardian. This is because things change and life happens. Perhaps, the loving couple you selected get divorced before you pass, but your estate plan still names them as join guardians. Or, maybe the person you named passes before you do, or they simply change their mind. Parenting is a huge responsibility, and it is one thing to volunteer when it is just on paper, but it is another thing to actually raise a child. People can change their mind.
How to select a guardian?
When deciding on your list of guardians, think about which one of your family members and friends would make good parents. Think about how you want your children raised, and select people that share those same values.
Your Memphis, Tennessee, estate plan should not simply name a successive list of guardians. Instead, it should also provide for the financial stability of your children, should both you and your spouse pass. This is normally done through a trust because it empowers an independent, third-party with oversight of the money and over how you wish that money to be spent.