Last time, we talked a little bit about the top reasons why you may need an estate plan, even if you think you don’t. Here are the last three reasons.
- Your children’s guardian. Have children? Have you named their guardian? Is this document posted prominently in your house in case it’s needed? If you don’t decide on your guardian, the court will. The court doesn’t know you, your children, your family, or who you think would be most appropriate (or, conversely, who would NOT be appropriate). You may not have decided on someone, but you’ve probably eliminated some candidates. When you name no one, no one knows who you have eliminated, as the job is up for grabs to anyone. Name your preferences or your very last choice could very well raise your children.
- Your child’s guardian, part two. What happens if you’re in an accident and you and your spouse go to the hospital? Will the police leave your children with the underage babysitter? No, of course not. If you have not chosen a guardian, and posted that prominently (and told the babysitter), then the police are going to take your children to the police station. They may very well put your children into foster care while you recover. While the chance this would happen may be slim, why take the chance?
- Other documents necessary. If you don’t have an estate plan, you’re less likely to have powers of attorney, a living will/advance directive, and other necessary estate planning documents. These documents generally help you when you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions on your own behalf. Often a spouse is your first choice, but what happens if your spouse is also incapacitated? You need to prepare these documents to protect yourself and your wishes from being honored if you can’t speak for yourself.