Estate Planning decisions for Minor Children

One of the most important responsibilities a parent holds is nominating legal guardians for their minor child.  Every child should have a temporary and long-term legal guardian. 

For many years, we believed our children's extended family would be able to take over and raise them should something happen to us, their parents.  We never realized the legal requirements involved with selecting guardians or what the process for naming guardians would be should this ever need to happen.  Once we learned that our children could be placed in a stranger's care while waiting for a judge to make a temporary guardian appointment, we had to take immediate steps to protect them from this experience.  We did not live close to extended family, so we needed to appoint short-term guardians among our closest friends. It also became clear that for their grandparents, extended family, or godparents to be identified as our chosen caretakers, we needed to nominate them.  Our nomination gave each of us a voice if we were both incapacitated or unavailable for an extended period.   We also had the confidence knowing that there were potential family members we did not want as their legal guardians, and we were able to document those choices as well.

What Estate Planning Documents are created for Minors?

When there are minor children to plan for, we will create a set of caregiver instructions, a medical power of attorney, a short-term guardian nomination, a long-term guardian nomination, contact information for your child's current medical care providers, and a DocuBank account that will digitally save these essential documents so they can be accessed by emergency treatment providers using your child's own "Minors Matter Care Card." 

It is often a traumatic experience or emergency that starts the process of considering the legal planning decisions affecting minor children. Most parents of young children do not have a plan, and they are not alone. You can and should document your choices today. Just like updating an annual school emergency card, all parents should regularly review their minor's care plans and revisit who they selected as the nominated caregivers. Making a plan ensures your kids are prepared when necessary.