Quick. If your minor children suddenly were left orphaned, who would you trust to rear them to adulthood? Question: Have you "legally" appointed this trusted soul as "guardian" for your two-legged treasures?
Naming a guardian for a young child in an appropriate legal document (e.g., your Last Will and Testament), is one of the most important parental responsibilities. And, It can be one of the hardest, too. Little wonder, then, that many parents avoid making proper legal arrangements because they can't face this.
The Wall Street Journal, which typically focuses its editorial slant on financial assets, recently ran an article regarding this essential aspect of estate planning.
So, who will take care of your child(ren) if you die? It's a tough question to face, but if ignored, it leaves the fate of an orphaned child entirely up to someone who usually is a stranger – a judge.
If you are the parent – or grandparent – of a minor child, here are some tips that might get you (or your adult child) motivated to complete proper planning:
Choose a guardian for now. Remember, you can change your mind and modify your will in the future.
Think outside the box. The guardian you name does not have to be a blood relative.
Remember that none of us is perfect. In fact, when we get right down to it, even we are not "perfect" (i.e., flawless) parents for our own children. It's just part of the human condition.
Consider a mixed approach. You may want to name one guardian for your "children" (i.e., someone who is great with the kids) and another guardian for the "estate" (i.e., someone who is great with finances).
Regardless, if you have not taken care of this fundamental responsibility, then I cannot think of a better resolution to top your list for 2012.
Happy New Year!
Reference: The Wall Street Journal (December 12, 2011), "The Hard Question."