Estate planning is thought of as a financial endeavor, and you do have to facilitate asset transfers when you plan your estate. At the same time, there are some other things to take into consideration, and guardianship is one of them.
When you think about the concept of guardianship, dependent children may come to mind. This is one type of guardianship that should be addressed.
Many young adults are unprepared from an estate planning perspective, largely because they feel as though they will have time to take care of the matter later on. Unfortunately, you never know what the future holds. All responsible adults should have an estate plan in place, regardless of age.
Younger single adults should execute the appropriate estate planning documents, but planning is absolutely essential for parents of minor children. You want to make sure that there is a financial underpinning in place so that your family can continue on if you were to pass away unexpectedly.
In addition to the financial end of things, there is also the matter of guardianship. Who would care for your children if both parents were to pass away in an accident? If you are a single parent, the question is even more profound, because people pass away due to catastrophic illnesses as well.
When you create a last will as part of your estate plan, you can nominate a guardian to care for your children. If a guardianship became necessary, the court would honor your nomination, unless there was some compelling reason why the nominee was incapable of acting in the best interests of the children.
You should certainly make sure that a guardian of your own choosing is empowered to care for your children should the unthinkable take place.
Guardianship does not exclusively apply to children. Adult guardianship proceedings can be convened if an adult becomes unable to handle his or her own affairs due to incapacitation. Under these circumstances, interested parties could petition the court, and the court would make a determination.
If the court found that the adult in question was in fact incapacitated, a guardian would be appointed. This court-appointed guardian would handle the affairs of the incapacitated adult, and this adult would become a ward.
A guardianship can provide a solution, but there are some drawbacks that go along with the process. For one, if you were to become a ward, the guardian that is chosen by the court may not be someone that you would have selected when you were of sound mind.
Secondly, the proceeding can take time, and it may also take time for the people around you to petition the court, because this is a sensitive matter. The need for immediate decision-making may exist, so this time lag can present difficulties.
Lastly, family members are not always on the same page. Different people in the family may have different ideas, and this can create acrimony during a time when family members should be coming together to support one another.
If you are proactive when you are planning your estate, you can prevent a guardianship proceeding. This is done through the creation of a legally binding document called a durable power of attorney.
Take note of the “durable” designation. A power of attorney that is not specifically designated as durable would no longer be in effect if the person creating the power of attorney was to become incapacitated.
A durable power of attorney does remain active, even if the grantor suffers from incapacitation.
With a durable financial power of attorney, you name someone who will be empowered to handle your financial affairs in the event of your incapacitation. You can also add a durable power of attorney for health care to name someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.
If you state your wishes in durable powers of attorney, there would be no need for a guardianship. Hand-picked decision-makers of your own choosing would be in place to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation.
We should also point out the fact that a revocable living trust can provide incapacity planning benefits. If you establish this type of trust, you can name a disability trustee. This individual or entity would be empowered to administer the trust if you ever become unable to handle the trust administration tasks on your own.
Attend one of our Free Estate Planning Seminars
Our firm is very committed to providing these educational opportunities. We know that people live busy lives, and there are a number of different communities that we serve throughout southwest Florida.
To accommodate everyone, we offer our seminars on a continual, ongoing basis, and the sessions are held at various different locations throughout Southwest Florida. Different starting times are also offered, so you should definitely be able to find a starting time and a location that works for you.
All of our seminars are absolutely free to attend, but they do fill up quickly. As a result, we ask that you register in advance to that we can reserve your seat. We would also like to encourage you to bring along your successor or successors so that they can build on their knowledge as well.
You can click this link to see our current schedule: Southwest Florida Estate Planning Seminars. We look forward to seeing you!