Estate planning when minor children are involved

Estate planning is essential when you have minor children. You want to provide financial support in the event of your death and have a say in who should be appointed as the legal guardian. Many parents feel that having someone who can care for minor children is even more important than handling their assets. Estate planning in New York may be the only way to prepare for both: who should be the guardian and how the estate should be handled.

Estate planning when minors are involved can be complicated. When you are gone, the court may end up appointing a guardian for minors that is not your choice. It is important to work with your attorney to avoid situations like that and to decide who will handle your child’s money after your death.

Things to consider when choosing a guardian

Choosing a guardian to care for dependent children should not be taken lightly. If you were to die, it would be traumatic enough for your child. Placing them with someone unfamiliar with your customs or outside of your geographic location could be very difficult. Consider the following things when choosing a guardian:

  • Speak with the person who you choose to get their feelings about taking on the responsibility of caring for your child or children. If they voice concerns or offer objections, you may want to consider other candidates.
  • If you want your children raised in a particular religion, discuss first with the guardian of your choice. This person must be willing to provide the religious preference that you require.
  • A guardian must be financially responsible. That does not mean that the guardian of your children must be the one to handle your estate. However, it does mean that they must use the financial support you offer for raising the children wisely and in the child’s best interest. 
  • Look at any limitations that the guardian may have. Are there physical limitations that could stand in the way of raising your child in your absence?  Do they live in a tiny apartment on a third floor that may be difficult with small children?  Would they be able to move to your current home?
  • Consider their location. If you live in New York but the guardian lives in southern California, decide if that is too far outside your children’s comfort zone and family circle.
  • Update your estate plan regularly. Choosing a guardian for your child or children is an important decision. Things change. Your guardian may develop health issues or suffer some setback that would keep them from being a good choice as guardian. 

Include a guardian for your child or children in your estate plan

Only the person named in your will or estate plan can become the guardian for your child if you die. However, failing to name a guardian can result in the court appointing one for your child. The important thing is not to put off making this part of your estate plan.

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