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Parents would be wise to consider guardianship matters

For New York parents with minor-aged children, the thought of not being around to raise their kids is often too painful to even contemplate. Forces beyond one's control, however, may result in the premature death of one or both parents. If the unthinkable happens, the majority of U.S. parents have not taken the proper and necessary steps to ensure for their children's future care and security.

Most parents pay more time and attention to what their child wears or eats than they do about who would care for a child should an accident occur. While it can be difficult, there's nothing more important than taking the time to think about whom would be the best legal guardians for a child. As with most important life decisions, there are several factors that should be considered and weighed when making decisions related to guardianship.

If naming a couple to serve as guardians for a minor child, it's important to contemplate what would happen should that couple divorce. If a parent has reservations about either spouse it may be best to consider other options. Likewise, it's important to have a first, second and possibly even third choice. Things happen and lives change in ways that may prevent intended guardians from being able to fulfill their obligations.

In addition to deciding who would serve as acceptable guardians, it's also wise for parents to clearly express their wishes if there is a relative whom they do not want to serve as a guardian. There are cases in which family members may dispute guardianship. If written documentation exists that expresses a parent's thoughts and wishes, that letter may serve to quash guardianship and will contests.

No parent wants to contemplate not being around to see their children grow up and have children of their own. It's a sad reality, however, that these circumstances befall some children and families. It's important, therefore, that parents take the appropriate steps to meet with an estate planning attorney who can answer questions, address concerns and assist in establishing guardianship for minor-aged children.


Source: Sun Sentinel, "6 things to avoid when naming guardians for your kids," Elise Rodriguez, Nov. 21, 2013

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