What New Parents Need to Know About Legal Guardianship – And Why It Can’t Wait
By Rachael B. Brekke
There is no way to completely prepare for the journey you’re about to begin. Parents devote their lives to ensuring their children are cared for, protected, and secure in their future. We spend so many hours preparing for the baby to arrive that we often aren’t considering one of the most important things to put on the “to do” list after the little one arrives.
Designating a Legal Guardian
As young parents, one of the most important things you can do for your children is to designate a legal guardian to make sure the right people are in charge of your kids if something were to happen to you. You also need to have the right language in your will that establishes a trust, with the right people in charge, so that your wishes for your kids’ education, lifestyle, and care are carried out. A thorough review of your life insurance and retirement accounts is another important part of making sure your kids’ future is secure.
It Only Takes a Little Bit of Planning
Accidents happen. It is critical to have legal documents in place to explain how you would like things handled in the event you are seriously incapacitated or disabled. Tragedy is never easy. But we can take steps to make it a bit easier on our children by having clear plans for successor guardians and caregiving wishes. It’s always nice to have traditional ceremonies that name godparents, take pictures, and make announcements – but what you may not realize is that unless you have a legal document with your wishes outlined, the long-term care of your child may be left to the decisions of the court.
An unfortunate reality is that family relationships can suffer in the aftermath of a tragedy, and it’s the children that are left with the most serious long term impacts. Making your wishes legally enforceable minimizes the risk to your children and gives them the best chance to grow up in the environment you want. It is critical for your child’s guardian to be identified in a legal document, like a last will and testament, and include the financial instruments necessary to take care of your child’s future. With a little bit of planning, you can have comfort in knowing that you have taken care of your family’s future.