What happens to my minor children if I die? This is a multifaceted question that depends greatly on the amount of planning prior to the event occurring. While most people don’t like to think about their death, especially if they have young children, this is exactly the time to plan for it. Preparing what would happen if you die with an attorney is the best way to ensure your wishes are honored and your kids are taken care of financially.
If you were to die unexpectedly, one of the first major issues to be addressed is guardianship. If the child’s other parent is alive and a fit parent, this question is usually straightforward. If this is not the case, however, a legal guardian will need to be appointed. If plans were made beforehand, the designated legal guardian of the child will be written in the will. If there was not a will made or no legal guardian named, then any interested adult can petition for custody of the child. Or, if the child is over the age of 16, he/she can petition for Emancipation. The problem becomes if more than one party is interested in becoming the legal guardian of the child. This can lead to a drawn out court battle.
Another issue is who is going to handle the finances for the child. If a trust has been set up, the trustee will be managing it until the child is of age or whatever provisions are set forth in the trust. The financial aspect is important because it determines how the child’s basic needs will be met, if they are to receive an allowance, and can help offset the cost of raising them. This is especially crucial if they are to be under the care of someone who is financially stressed. Should your guardian be compensated? Deciding who will handle the finances for your child can be a difficult decision as you are entrusting them to spend the money wisely. The person who is handling the financial decisions does not have to be the guardian of the child.
Like most legal matters, the financial and physical care of your child is best decided under the guidance of an attorney before anything bad happens. Preparing for the worst case scenario is the best way of ensuring your child or children are taken care by persons of your choosing and that they are financially protected as well.