When you consider the subject of estate planning, you may assume that it is only important for people who are approaching their senior years. In fact, it could be argued that estate planning is even more important for younger adults. With this in mind, we will look at the matter of child guardianship, and we will also look at adult guardianship.
Protecting Your Children
The children of older people are typically going to be grown-up and self-supporting. When you are a senior citizen you should certainly plan your estate so that you can leave behind resources to everyone that you love. At the same time, adult children are capable of taking care of themselves when it comes to the basics.
Younger adults who have dependent children still in the home have an added layer of responsibility. The children are relying on their parents for everything. While it is true that older people are more likely to pass away, you never know what the future holds.
Estate planning is very important for parents of minor children. The children must be provided for financially, and you should nominate a guardian in your estate plan if you have dependents still at home. It is very likely that the court would honor your nomination during the guardianship proceeding that would be convened if both parents were to pass away.
When you nominate a guardian, you can be certain that someone of your own choosing would care for your children in the event of your passing.
In addition to child guardianship, there is also the matter of adult guardianship. An adult guardianship hearing could take place if an adult was to become incapacitated at some point in time. If the court agreed that the individual was incapacitated, a guardian would be appointed to act on behalf of the incapacitated senior.
This process provides a useful safeguard, but you can be proactive about preventing a guardianship proceeding when you are planning your estate.
Your estate plan should include an incapacity planning component. You can account for the possibility of incapacity through the creation of legally binding documents. One of these would be a durable financial power of attorney. With this document you empower an agent or attorney-in-fact to handle your financial affairs in the event of your incapacitation.
You could also include a health care proxy. This document is used to name someone to handle your health care decision-making.
When you have these documents in place, your own hand-picked decision-makers would act on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation, and a guardianship would not be necessary.
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