The prospect of dying while a parent has minor children in the home is a grim thought. Fortunately, this is not a common occurrence. Nonetheless, it can happen – a parent with minor children can end up dying. Indeed, there are instances in which both parents tragically die in the untimely event, underscore the need to consider wills and child custody.
With this reality understood, parents need to make certain that their estate plans include a last will and testament that includes provisions for their children. Such provisions need to include the possibility that both parents pass and are not available to care for the children.
Wills and Child Custody: Financial Considerations
A key element of a last will and testament for parents with minor children involves ensuring that the minors properly are cared for financially. This typically includes the appointment of a person to serve as a guardian and conservator for the children – the establishment of a conservatorship being the vehicle through which the financial affairs of the children are managed.
Wills and Child Custody: Care of the Children
Parents of minor children should not presume that a certain person (or persons) will be able to take responsibility for the care of their children in the event of their deaths. Yes, it is possible that a close family member (like a child’s grandparent) will become the guardian of a child, other possibilities theoretically exist.
The best course to take to ensure that a suitable person (or persons) becomes the guardian of minor children if both parents are deceased is to designate such an individual (or individuals) in the wills of both parents. By making a will that includes this type of directive, parents can rest easier knowing that their children will be in good hands should the need ever arise for this type of guardianship.
Keep an Estate Plan Up to Date
Parents of minor children should make it a point to review their estate plans annually. This should be done with an eye to ensuring wills and child custody provisions remain appropriate and in accordance with the parents’ wishes and the prospective needs of their children. Circumstances may warrant a review more frequently than once a year. In any event, parents must be proactive in this regard.