The 1 Key Step to Protect Your Minor Children

By: Nikki M. Vasconez,  Esq.

Q: “Hey, Mom. Can I skateboard to Johnny’s house in the City? It’ll only take me 45 minutes!”
A: “No, honey. You’re 12 years old. I will drive you. “
Q: “What if I take the train?”
A: “No, I will drive you.”
Q: “How about Max’s older brother? He just got his license! He said he’ll drive us anywhere!”
A: “No.”

Sometimes our kids think we are stuck on repeat by our seemingly consistent answers of “No” to the myriad of, what we perceive to be ridiculous, questions thrown our way. Other than preventing your 12-year-old son from skateboarding to the City, how else can you protect him today?

Well, the first key step is to name a guardian in your will! Who is going to raise your underage children if you’re no longer here? Who will shape their future in your absence? Teach them life lessons? Protect them from bad influences? Make sure they’re well-educated? Will your children grow up sharing your values and beliefs? Does your child have certain limitations? Shouldn’t you be in control of all these things?

Ask yourself who you’d be comfortable with stepping into your role as a parent. Will this person know how you wanted things done? How will they know that? A note on a napkin with the time for dinner certainly won’t cut it! 

By naming a guardian for your minor children, you are determining—RIGHT NOW—who will care for your children and how.

Many of my clients come to me with the mistaken assumption that their parents are automatically guardians, or their in-laws. This is not accurate. No one is automatically deemed your child’s guardian! 

What if you don’t name a guardian and something happens to you? Well, that’s easy. As a lawyer, my answer to many questions is often “it depends.” Here, however, this is simple. Without a guardian named, someone in the family will have to raise their hand and a Judge—who doesn’t know anything about you—will choose. YIKES!

In making the selection, the Court will consider various aspects such as the potential guardian’s location/proximity, financial ability, and household stability. But we are all unique human beings. What’s unique about your family? 

Think about that for a moment.

Keep thinking!

Is there something non-negotiable in terms of your ideas, beliefs, philosophy, or style of parenting?

What if NO ONE in the family is able or willing to be guardian? Or, will there be a tug of war over your children? And in fact, sometimes the most important question is not who will be guardian, but who SHALL NEVER be guardian. Is there someone you definitely do not want to be guardian?! We will keep that confidential.

If you were Judge, what would you do in this scenario:

Sarah has a great relationship with both of her sisters. If Sarah never named a guardian for her minor children, which sister would you choose if a guardian were needed?

1. Sister in the same school district with modest means; or

2. Married sister in the same county (not the same school district) who is more affluent.

Put yourself in Sarah’s shoes: is there anything else you’d want the court to consider that is not provided for in this example? OF COURSE! What about your values, beliefs, preferred lifestyle, educational preferences, etc. The list goes on and on! Planning ahead by stating your preferences and requirements will save all these uncertainties having to be decided by a stranger. The Judge will do the best he or she can but they don’t know you.

The 1 KEY STEP to protecting your minor children is naming guardians in your will.

Other than protecting your children by responding “no” to their risky requests, how else will you protect them today? By calling my office to schedule your complimentary consultation so we can make sure YOUR instructions will be followed!

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HighPoint Law Offices PC

At HighPoint Law Offices we support individuals, families, and businesses of all backgrounds with estate planning services that address their unique wishes, goals, and challenges.

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