By Adil Daudi, Esq.
Itâ€™s unimaginable to think any parent would leave their minor child, or any child, abandoned. During their life parents sacrifice their time, energy, money, and everything in between to provide for their child. But what often goes unattended is that same care and protection upon the respective parents death.
Thinking about life and what happens after death to ones child is never easy; but, that is not to say it is not important. Unfortunately, accidents happen, and there is no guarantee that parents will outlive their children, more specifically their minor children.
Any parent with a minor should make it their top priority to take the necessary steps to ensure their child is protected in the event they pass away. Developing a protection plan for minor children includes outlining the parentsâ€™ wishes for their minor child, which should be part of any overall estate plan. A typical plan should mention and address some of the following:
1. Creating the appropriate legal document naming a Guardian, whose role it would be to look after and raise the minor child upon the parentsâ€™ passing. Without such a document, the courts would intervene and decide who should act as Guardian;
2. Providing additional names of potential Guardians to ensure the courts never get involved;
3. Drafting a list of instructions for the Guardian to abide by with respect to how the parents want their child raised with respect to the parentsâ€™ values, morals, etc.
4. Nominating a Trustee to manage the childâ€™s inheritance/finances;
5. Control how the childâ€™s inheritance shall be governed and managed, i.e. when it is to be distributed, how it is to be distributed, what the inheritance should be used for, etc.; and
6. If the child has special needs and is receiving governmental assistance, drafting a plan to ensure the childâ€™s assistance remains, as well as being allowed to receive the inheritance.
No parent should leave this world without having the proper documents in place to guarantee the protection of their child. People come up with enough excuses to push this plan aside and say â€œIâ€™ll take care of it next week.â€ But, there is never any guarantee that â€œnext weekâ€ will actually come. Without a plan, parents leave the selection of who will look after the child in the hands of a judge â€“ i.e. a stranger. Further, any inheritance left for the child would be held under a court-supervised guardianship and again, making the judge to decide who is best suited to manage the childâ€™s property. Further, once the child reaches the age of eighteen (18), the child is entitled to the entire sum of the inheritance, exposing the very real possibility of it all being spent before the child even reaches the age of twenty-one (21).
Unless the above is the plan envisioned by a parent, there is only one way to avoid it â€“ see an attorney and devise a plan. No child should be left at the hands of the court, especially if it is because the parents never took the time to sit down and complete their estate plan.
Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll &Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Asset Protection for Physicians, Physician Contracts, Estate Planning, Shariah Estate Planning, Health Care Law, Business Litigation, and Corporate Formations. He can be contacted for any questions related to this article or other areas of law at firstname.lastname@example.org or (517) 381-2663.