As a parent, safeguarding your child’s future is your top priority. You’ve likely considered educational plans, healthcare, and even savings accounts for your little one.
But have you thought about what would happen to them if you’re not around? Enter the guardianship clause in your will – an often overlooked, yet critically important, provision. If you are yet to incorporate this into your estate plan, here’s why every parent needs a guardianship clause in their will.
The Importance of a Guardianship Clause
A guardianship clause is a provision in your will that allows you to designate who will take care of your minor children if both parents are unable to do so. This is not a pleasant thought, but it’s a necessary one. Without this provision, the court will decide who will become the guardian, and their choice may not align with your wishes.
What Happens Without a Guardianship Clause?
If you pass away without a guardianship clause, you leave your child’s future in the hands of the court system. This not only leads to unnecessary legal fees but also emotional stress for your children.
The court’s decision is based on a variety of factors, like the financial stability and moral character of potential guardians. However, they may not fully understand the emotional and psychological needs of your child.
Taking Control of the Decision
By including a guardianship clause, you take control of a situation you can’t predict. You get to choose someone who aligns with your values, parenting styles, and wishes for your children’s future. When selecting a guardian, think about factors like:
- Relationship with your child
- Ability to provide emotional and financial support
- Similarity in religious and ethical beliefs
- Physical location and living conditions
- Willingness and ability to take on this responsibility
Don’t Forget the Backup Plan
It’s a good idea to appoint a backup guardian in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve when the time comes. The secondary guardian is as important as the first, so give it the same level of thought and consideration.
Once you’ve made your choice, it’s essential to discuss this responsibility with the chosen guardian and backup guardian. Make sure they’re willing to take on this role. After that, formalize it by including their names in the guardianship clause of your will or a Nomination of Guardianship document in case you become incapacitated. A qualified estate planning attorney can help you draft these correctly.
Review and Update
Your will is not a set-and-forget document. Life changes – divorces happen, guardians may move away, or they may no longer be the right fit for your child. Therefore, review your will periodically, especially after major life events, to ensure the guardianship clause still serves your child’s best interests.
A Comprehensive Estate Plan
A guardianship clause is part of a comprehensive estate plan that includes various other components like living wills, financial power of attorney, and trusts. For example, you could establish a trust for your children’s financial future and name the guardian as the trustee, ensuring that your assets are used for your children’s welfare.
Don’t Delay, Act Today
Including a guardianship clause in your will may sound overwhelming, but it’s crucial for your child’s well-being. Don’t let the burden of a difficult decision deter you from making one. By making this decision proactively, you are offering your children a priceless gift, which is the security of knowing they’ll be well-cared for, even when you’re not around.
If you’re ready to put your plan in place, give us a call at 818-937-2335 to set up a consultation appointment, and if you would rather send us a message, use our contact form and we will get back in touch with you promptly.