Although you may not think you need it, an estate plan can provide peace of mind and the assurance that your family will be taken care of after your death. Documenting your wishes ahead of time eliminates uncertainty and disputes, while maximizing the value of your estate when it is distributed among your beneficiaries. This is especially if you have children or other family members who rely on you for support. An experienced estate planning attorney can assist you with creating a will and trust that is appropriate for you and your family, including guardianship of any minors.
What Is a Last Will and Testament?
Every estate plan should include a will, which is also sometimes referred to as a last will and testament. This legally binding document clearly states a person’s intentions or wishes after his or her death. The issues covered usually include who will act as the executor and who will inherit the estate. Regarding the estate, it can outline what will happen to the decedent’s possessions, such as whether they will be left to another person, an organization, or donated to charity. In addition, a will states who will become the guardian of any minor children.
Legal Guardianship of a Minor
Generally, only a parent of a child has the authority to make decisions about the child’s care. Sometimes, a parent is unable or chooses not to make decisions regarding his or her child’s care. In these situations, a person who is not the parent can become the legal guardian of the child. Legal guardianship permits an individual who is not the parent to make care decisions for a child, just like a parent would. This can include important matters such as the child’s healthcare, living situation, and education. For example, a minor cannot make decisions regarding his or her own medical care or treatment, only an adult can. The person with authority to make care decisions is called the child’s guardian, and he or she does not have to be a relative of the child.
One of the main reasons it is vital to include decisions about the guardianship of a minor in a will is when a parent dies. If no one is designated or appointed to have the responsibility of handling the child’s affairs, the court will determine who receives that authority. In cases where there is one surviving parent but he or she is incapable of raising the child, a guardian may be appointed to ensure the safety and well-being of the minor. Including this important issue in a will allows the person drafting it to be in control of who takes on this important responsibility. It is crucial to consider both short- and long-term factors of the child’s welfare, and who is best-suited for that role. Then, discussions between both parties should take place related to the specific wishes related to raising the minor. A Memorandum of Wishes can be drafted to address any and all concerns. This can also safeguard against relatives fighting over who should care for the child, which can cause great anxiety and emotional turmoil for the child as well as other family members.
Contact a South Barrington Estate Planning Lawyer
Guardianship of a minor is especially important to ensure the well-being of that child. That is why it should be an essential part of your estate plan. Including this designation can help prevent arguments and disputes among family members in the event of your death. At Dross, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, we are ready to put our proven methods to work for you and your family. Our accomplished Schaumburg estate planning attorneys will help you draft an estate plan that includes guardianship of a minor if necessary. To arrange a free consultation, call our office today at 847-934-8000.