Make your wishes clear and legally binding with a Will and Guardianship Plan.
A Will is a legally prepared and executed document stating how you wish your estate to be handled and passed on in the instance of your death. Having a Will ensures your desires are carried out upon your passing and protects your loved ones from dealing with the decision making themselves. Any person at or above age 18 can choose to have a Will created but it is particularly important as you age, build wealth and have children.
While most Americans know having a Will is important, 57% do not have one in place. What more Americans need to understand, however, is how overwhelming the decision making and legal process can be for your loved ones if you pass without a Will. At Shepard Law, we understand discussing end-of-life options with your friends and family may seem like an unapproachable topic, however, leaving your loved ones without a clear plan is far worse. When you die without a Will, you are leaving it up to the legal system to determine what to do with any remaining assets including money, your cars, home and insurance policies which can become an unexpected hardship for those closest to you.
Many adults assume a Will is only necessary for a high net worth, but ownership of vehicles and bank accounts at any level can be complicated to handle without a Will. This is why Shepard Law strongly advises securing your will regardless of level of wealth.
Guardianship Plans outline your desires for the care of your minor-aged children in case of your passing. A Guardianship lets the court and your loved ones know who you want your children to be raised by, and any specific details about their continued care after your death.
We cannot stress enough the importance of securing a guardian for your children. Without one, you could be leaving your child and family open to the decisions of a judge, a messy court process and even the involvement of temporary foster care. In some cases, the lack of clear Guardianship for children results in an ugly custody battle between family members.
In situations where children are in a different state than family members most likely to be granted guardianship, the lack of a legal Guardianship has resulted in the child or children being put in foster care while the state they live in sorts out custody. Since child care defaults to the state when there is no Guardianship, this makes it extra complicated to pair them with out-of-state family members.
Of course, this is a worst case scenario, but if this comes to pass, you will not be here to look out for your child’s best interests. Those decisions will be left up to people who do not know and love your children like you do. At the time of pregnancy or as early in the child’s life as possible, make it a priority to establish Guardianship should something happen to you.