If you die before your children are raised, then who will take care of them? There are two pieces to this answer: (1) the finances, and (2) the parenting. In our experience, the finances answer is always easier than the parenting.
Default with no planning: If both parents of a minor child die without any planning, any money or property the minor child inherits will be supervised by the court. The court will appoint a person, a Guardian of the Estate, to manage that money and property for the benefit of the minor child until the child turns 18. Once the child turns 18, he or she is entitled to have all the money and property turned over to him or her. To date, we haven’t had a single client who thought having funds turned over to an 18 year old person was a good idea.
Preferred planning: At a minimum, we include provisions in our planning that have the money and property for children held by a trusted person nominate by the parents until the child turns 25. The parents are able to not only specify the person who manages these funds, but the parents are also able to provide guidelines and direction for how the funds are used for their child.
One of the most challenging questions faced by clients is deciding who will raise their minor children if they aren’t around to do so. There is often a conflicting preference by each parent to have their side of the family raise the kids. Other times there is definite agreement by both parents that certain family members will under no circumstances raise their children.
Default: The court – more specifically a judge – decides who will raise the child. This person is called the Guardian of the Person. The judge makes this determination based upon the best interest of the child. Unfortunately with no planning by the parents, the judge does not have any direction from the parents on who they think would be the best person to raise the child.
Preferred planning: We recommend that parents give thought and put into their planning a list of three different groups for raising their children. The first group is people who could immediately step in to help with their children if something happened. This first group of people would prevent the children from going into child protective services or temporary foster care. The second group are the people who would like to take over the parenting permanently. The people in the second group may not be geographically close and so it may take time for them to get to the minor children, which is why they might not be in the first group for taking immediate care of your children. The third group are those people who under no circumstances do you wan to care for your children. For various reasons, there may be some people who you definitely do not want to raise your children. This third group is listed out in a way that those details are provided if necessary to prevent them for raising your children.