Estate planning is essential for responsible adults of all ages. But surveys consistently indicate a lack of preparation. Most American adults have not executed all of the appropriate estate planning documents, and younger people are especially remiss.
Clearly, you are probably not contemplating death when you are in your 20s, 30s, or 40s. At the same time, people of all ages do pass away each and every day due to catastrophic illnesses and accidents.
Some lose their lives serving their country. Police officers are also at risk.
It is more likely that you will pass away when you are older, but you may have less responsibilities to others. This is an important thing to keep in mind.
With that in mind, let’s look at the nomination of a guardian.
Caring for Minor Children
If you are the parent of a minor child, who would take care of your child if both parents were to pass away together in an accident? This question is even more profound for single parents.
The state would be charged with the responsibility of appointed a guardian under these circumstances. While it is good that someone has that authority, there are potential drawbacks.
Different people in the family may have different ideas with regard to the appropriate guardian for the child. This can create infighting and acrimony during an extremely difficult time.
In the end, the court could select someone that you would have never chosen on your own.
It is possible to take steps to proactively address this potential scenario. When you are planning your estate, you could nominate a guardian for your minor child or children.
If a guardianship became necessary, the court would probably select the person that you nominated. There is a review process, but the court would definitely lean toward the nominated party.
When you create an estate plan as a younger parent, you can go forward with peace of mind. Your estate plan can provide for your family financially, and you can also make sure that your child is properly cared for if a guardianship is called for at some point in time.
Elder law attorneys also deal with matters of adult guardianship. If you were to become incapacitated late in your life, the court could be petitioned to appoint a guardian to act on your behalf. This can create the same difficulties. Family members can disagree, and you would have no control over the choice of guardian.
You can go a long way toward preventing an adult guardianship through the execution of durable powers of attorney. With these legally binding documents you name hand-picked decision-makers who would be empowered to handle your affairs in the event of your incapacitation.
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