There is so much to do as a parent and one important way to protect your children is to name guardians for them in a legal document. Guardians are people legally named to care for your children in the event of your death or incapacity. Obviously, the child’s other parent (your spouse, ex, etc.) will take care of the child first, if they can. But if the child’s other parent isn’t available (predeceased, incapacitated, date night car accident, etc.), your child will need a guardian.
If you have not named guardians for your minor children yet, you should immediately do so using our easy-to-use (and absolutely free) website, where you can create legal documents to name guardians you would want to care for your children if you could not: www.NJKidsPlan.info. You will input your information and you will be emailed a pdf document with instructions about how to sign it with the right formalities.
Don’t think just because you have named godparents or have grandparents living nearby that’s enough. Naming guardians in a legal document makes your choice explicit which avoids conflict among family members (two sets of grandparents, your siblings, your spouse’s siblings) about what you have may have said that might have indicated who you trusted most. Court battles over guardianship can turn ugly, take a long time and be very expensive. All the while your child is living in limbo.
Covering all your bases
However, naming guardians is just one step in protecting your kids. It’s equally important to have someone (plus backups) with documented authority, who can stay with your children in the short-term, particularly if your chosen long-term guardians live more than 20 minutes away.
The last thing you want is for police to show up at your home and find your children with a caregiver who doesn’t have documented or legal authority to stay with them and doesn’t have any idea how to contact someone with such authority. In such cases, local police have told me they will try their best to find an appropriate family member, friend or neighbor to take care of the children. If they can’t find anyone, they would have to call the Child Protection and Permanency Division.
Naming short-term guardians in a legal document makes such a situation much easier for everyone – the police don’t have to figure things out, your short-term guardians already know they might be asked, and your children will be able to be with people you’ve chosen right away.
Closing the gap
While it’s easy to think, “this won’t happen to me” or “how often does anything like this happen”, if it did it would be traumatic to your child. And we make it easy for parents to address. Our plans for parents include a comprehensive plan for the care of your children, the Kids Protection Plan®, which lets you name short-term guardians who have immediate documented authority to care for your children until the long-term guardians you have appointed can be notified and get to your children.
The Kids Protection Plan® also includes specific instructions that are given to everyone entrusted with your children’s care, explaining how to contact your short and long-term guardians. The plan also ensures everyone named by you has the legal documents they’d need on hand and knows exactly what to do if called upon. We even provide you with an ID card for your wallet and emergency instructions to post on your refrigerator, so the contacts and process are prominently available in case something happens to you.
Finally, if there’s anyone you’d never want raising your children, we confidentially document that in the plan, preventing them from wasting the time, energy, and assets of the people you do want caring for your children.
If you minor children and have been thinking that you “need a will”, contact us or scheduling a Family Wealth Planning Session online. You will not only get a will, but a comprehensive plan for the care and protection of your whole family. We make the process easy for busy parents!