Almost immediately my husband turns to be, and with an amused but shocked expression on his face, mouths "it's an estate planning problem!" And so it was, on my day off from work here I was watching a film with the type of situation I walk clients through on a daily basis. If you die, and then your spouse dies, who will take care of your children and the funds you leave behind?
Guardianship, it's a key sticking point for many parents of young children. Indecision or an inability to face their own mortality keep this question from being answered. Thanks to Cinderella I can safely say, planning is not nearly as bad as not having a plan should the unthinkable happen. If you need a starting point, here are a few questions I would offer -- as a mom myself -- for your consideration:
- Who shares your values?
- Who is close to your child(ren)?
- Who has the ability to welcome your child(ren) into their life and home?
- Is the same person as equipped to handle funds you leave behind (i.e. life insurance, retirement, home equity, etc.)? Remember, someone who might be great with children may not be skilled at financial matters.
- Who shares your views on religion, education, lifestyle, and finances?
- Consider those in your circle of family and friends -- you are not required to name a blood relative. More often than not family shares your life but not your DNA.
- Have a backup plan, who is your second choice.
- If you are considering a couple, ask yourself which one would you choose if that couple divorced? Given the divorce rate it is an important factor to consider -- is the one person sufficient, or was it the couple that made the deal in your mind?
And I could go on and on, but that is for you to consider and speak with your attorney. Remember, a blog is not legal advice. Rather it is a forum for discussion. The same week I watched Cinderella I also read a news story about a women who had created a plan for her houseplant -- one that will likely long outlive her. This woman had planned for a plant! Yet how many parents have not asked, what happens if were not here. Need more motivation? Watch Disney's Cinderella and you'll likely be prodded in the right direction -- make a decision, and make it legally binding. Thanks for reading, and have a great week.