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That’s not an easy question to answer, is it? Sure, you may have friends or family who are ready to step in, but have you prepared the paperwork necessary to grant them the legal power to take over?
Many younger couples believe that estate planning isn’t an immediate concern because if something happens to one spouse, the other spouse will be there to step in.
And in some cases that’s a fair argument…
Yet, you purchase fire insurance to protect your home even though the chances are low that you’ll ever need it. In fact, you’ll pay hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, each year to insure against risks that, in all likelihood, are never going to happen. You don’t complain about it. You don’t question it. You recognize that even though the risk is low, it would be catastrophic to your wealth and to your family if some- thing happened.
The Unthinkable Scenario…
Imagine that it’s date night…
You’ve arranged for a babysitter, and you’ve covered every possible scenario, leaving a list of instructions a mile long…
No videos past eight… Billy’s allergic to peanuts… They only get a snack if they’re good…
You’re not going far and you won’t even be gone that long… what could possibly go wrong?
But then you’re hit by a drunk driver on the way home. The injuries are severe, and you’re rushed to the Emergency Room.
What Happens When You Don’t Come Home That Night?
One likely scenario is that your babysitter calls the police. After all, she’s frantic… She hasn’t heard from you, and you should have been home hours ago. Clearly something’s amiss, and since you’re not answering your cell phones, she’s not sure what to do.
And when the authorities realize there are minor children in the picture, they’re obligated to investigate.
Now, you may already have friends and family who are ready to step in. Unfortunately, the legal system doesn’t acknowledge casual promises when children are involved.
If you don’t have signed legal documents with the proper authorization to provide to the Social Services Department, they are required to step in.
Even if they believe a relative is a good choice, without proper papers, there are still many logistical problems. The problem is, your next of kin or close friends may not be immediately accessible. It may take time to find them, or your relatives may live out-of-state and not be available to take custody of your children right away.
And more often than not, the system will step in until the issue of a Guardian can be sorted out.
Let us say that again…
In cases where there is no authorized person available to immediately step in, your children could be placed in a foster home or emergency shelter until an emergency Guardianship can be established. And by then it will be too late for you to do anything about it.
Start the conversation. Download our “Estate Planning for Young Families”
Obviously, there’s no perfect solution to this dreadful scenario, but we specialize in a way to keep a bad situation from becoming even worse.