Selecting a Guardian for Minor Children – Your Decision or the Court’s?
When parents die, and minor children are left behind, a legal guardian is identified to serve as a surrogate parent. Ideally, parents with minors have drafted wills in which they’ve designated a guardian.
Unfortunately, many people avoid drawing up a Last Will and Testament. It’s very uncomfortable to think about death, and much easier to “put it off” for a later day. But, in the case of a single parent, or couples with young children, neglecting to have a Last Will and Testament may lead to tragedy. Without a will, the court is responsible for selecting the guardian. Generally, the court will identify a family member. In the absence of a suitable family member, a close family friend may be designated. However, when there is neither a family member nor a close friend to take on the responsibilities of caring for children, the court may have to make children “wards of the state.” In that case, children will be placed in foster care and, possibly, put up for adoption.
Needless to say, while the courts try to do the right thing, parents are best suited for identifying the most appropriate guardians for their minor children. And the best way to insure that your children will be well cared for if you aren’t around is by working with an attorney to draw up a Last Will and Testament that designates who you want to serve as guardian.
Getting Legal Help
Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Elga Goodman can help you understand your options and make decisions that ensure your loved ones will be well cared for and protected. Drawing up a Last Will and Testament is an essential part of parenting, and should be done sooner rather than later. Contact us today at 973-841-5111.