Marietta Estate Planning Lawyer Urges: Add ‘Naming Legal Guardians’ To Your List of Resolutions This Year
Posted on Dec 08, 2012
Naming legal guardians is the best way to ensure that your kids would be raised by the people you want, if something unexpected happens to you. Atlanta estate planning attorney, Steve Worrall, reveals an easy, 3-step process to help you choose.
MARIETTA, GA (01/01/2012)- It’s something no parent likes to think about, but according to Marietta estate planning attorney, Steve Worrall, there’s no better time than the New Year to handpick legal guardians who can raise your kids if something happens to you.
Statistics show that 69% of US parents do not have legal guardians named to care for their kids in the event of sudden death or incapacity. If both parents should pass away at once (similar to the horrific Berry Family car accident, which received national attention earlier this year), a judge will have no choice but to step in and make painful custody decisions on your child’s behalf.
As someone who doesn’t know you, your wishes or the needs of your children, Worrall says “a judge is the last person you want making life-altering decisions for your family if a tragedy strikes.”
That is why Worrall urges parents to sit down and choose legal guardians for their minor children at the start of the New Year. To help simplify the process and narrow down candidates, Worrall recommends the following 3 steps:
1. Sit down and brainstorm all the people who could possibly raise your kids if you were killed or incapacitated in an accident. Worrall says don’t limit your choices to family either. Think outside the box and create a column where you will list out everyone who comes to mind.
2. Determine who you would NEVER want to raise your kids in your absence. Worrall says you’ll need to tell the courts who you don’t want raising your kids in the event that individual contests your wishes and seeks custody of your kids anyway (This can be kept private and only revealed if the need arises).
3. Weigh your values. Worrall believes weighing values is one of the most overlooked steps when naming guardians, which is why he recommends making a third column and writing down what is important to you and/or your spouse. Do you value education? Religious or spiritual training? The ability to live in a certain community? Being raised in a two-parent family? Whatever your values may be, Worrall says be honest about them, write them down, prioritize them and eventually rank the top three.
From there, Worrall advises parents to match their top guardian choices to their top values. This will give you a clear picture of who you can trust to raise your children with the values you hold near and dear to your heart.
Finally, Worrall urges parents to legally document their choice of guardians so that there’s no question as to who you want to raise your kids if the unthinkable happens.
“Talk to a local attorney and legally document who you want to physically and financially care for your kids if something happens to you,” urges Worrall. “It’s the greatest gift you can give your children should tragedy ever strike,” he adds.