As it happens, young parents would rather talk about pretty much any other part of their personal life than answer one all important question. But when they finally do start talking about who would care for their children if they were to die prematurely, almost everyone has the same misconceptions about the process. In fact, most folks are letting four major myths hold them back from getting the job done and protecting their kid in case the worst happens.
My biggest frustration as an estate planning attorney is the fact that too many young parents fail to plan with heartbreaking consequences when the unexpected happens and they die before getting the chance to raise their minor children. While I understand that the subject of death can be a pretty off-putting subject for many people, in trying to reach out to young parents, I find, more often than I would like to admit, that I fail to share the sense of urgency I feel: every good parent has a reason to nail down the issue of guardianship for their minor children.
To that end, Jacoba Urist at the Huffington Post recently put together the four dangerous myths about choosing a guardian:
- The myth of the perfect match. What would the perfect match look like? Someone just like you, presumably (and you personally, in a perfect world.) Nevertheless, it’s a convenient myth for putting off any decision and getting any planning done. Remember: You can always name a new guardian as your child grows or as circumstances change.
- The myth that someone will step up and solve the issue anyway. While it may be true that your family members will swoop in, that doesn’t mean they will all agree on who ought to do so (or that the family members you would want to will even be able). It can mean a family fight and, in that case, the one who actually chooses is the judge.
- The myth that you can just leave a letter hidden somewhere. Many parents write a letter asking a loved one to become guardian and then tuck it away so that it can be found if the need should arise. Although that’s better than nothing, it’s not legally binding.
- The myth that you don’t have to ask. If you don’t ask you’ll never know how your guardian feels about your decision. Deciding this issue in advance can help your family and your children in a difficult time.
Take a look at the original article here, and maybe consider if you’re holding yourself back from making a decision. Often, proper planning begins in one place and spreads out into an entire plan, so perhaps this is how you come to find your plans and your priorities. On a happier note, I can report that not all of my younger clients have ignored my good advice, I am putting the finishing touches on my niece's estate plan, who, though just 30 something, has two toddlers and wanted to make sure they were protect if the unexpected were to occur.
You can learn more about estate and elder law planning on our website. Be sure to sign up for our free e-newsletter to stay abreast of issues like these that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.
Reference: The Huffington Post (October 24, 2011) “4 Dangerous Myths About Choosing a Guardian”