Why do you need to name a guardian for your children?
When you think about estate planning, you might envisage dying in your sleep at 92 years old. You picture your children and grandchildren weeping by your beside and later being grateful for the assets you have left them.
It is a nice image, yet it might not come true. Picture this instead. The police are knocking at your door with the social security services to tell your young children that mom and dad are never coming home. They ask your children if they have any relatives they can contact, someone that could look after them.
Naming a guardian for your children protects them in a worst-case scenario
Few things could be more devastating for a child than losing both parents. Hopefully, it will never happen, yet it could, at any time.
The law considers children as minors up to the age of 18 who need a legal guardian. You, as parents, are the automatic guardians of your children. If one of you dies, then the children still have the other parent. Yet, if you both die, that is when a third party would need to take over. Conditions such as a coma or a severe mental illness can also leave you incapable of looking after your children.
By naming a guardian in your estate plan, you get to choose who looks after your kids if you cannot. You may decide to name two — one to look after the finances you leave to your children until they turn 18, and one to care for the children themselves. Once you have decided on a suitable person, you need to get their agreement, then put it in a legal document.