Kids are a primary motivation for estate planning. And for good reason.
As much as we hate to think about it, we all want to know that our children will be safe and healthy and loved if we are suddenly taken away from them. To accomplish this, some advance planning is required.
First and foremost, you need to name your children’s long-term guardians—ideally, people who share your values and will raise your children as if they are their own. And that is where most estate plans stop.
But you should also name temporary guardians, so someone (or a list of folks!) can care for your child until their long-term guardians are ready to take them. Picture, for instance, that tragedy strikes while your children’s long-term guardians are vacationing out of the country (or maybe they simply live on the other side of the country) and they need time to arrange for travel. The last thing you want to have happen is your children being placed in foster care while they are dealing with the loss of a parent. We want to help you—and your children—avoid that possibility.
You also want to make sure your temporary guardians can make health care decisions for your child, and that they know what medical issues exist and who to contact if medical attention is needed. This is where a medical power of attorney for your child and health care information sheet become invaluable.
Preparing your estate plan is also a perfect opportunity to think about (and put in writing) how you would want your children to be raised—the values that are important to you, your dreams for your children, what your children love to do, and so forth. Although not a legal document, we think this is important information to share with your named guardians, and we have even a handy worksheet to guide you through these difficult topics.
If there is someone who you absolutely do not want raising your children, we can also prepare a confidential exclusion of guardian, which will only be revealed in the event that that person is seeking guardianship through a court proceeding.
In sum, here are the documents available in every Child Care Plan, which we include in every estate plan involving minor children:
- Guardian Nomination
- Nomination of Temporary Guardian
- Confidential Exclusion of Guardian
- Instructions to the Guardian of Our Minor Children
- Instructions to the Caregiver of Our Minor Children
- Letter to Temporary Guardian
- Important Healthcare Information for Our Minor Children
- Medical Power of Attorney for Our Children
If you already have an estate plan in place, or aren’t quite ready for one, you can also purchase these documents as a separate package.