Expecting a child is an exciting and emotional time. The nursery may be ready for the new arrival, and you may eagerly be anticipating your child’s major milestones — the first steps, first words, first day of school and more. However, one event that may not be on the radar of new parents in Onondaga County is the fact that, as awful as it sounds, both parents could suddenly pass away before the child is grown. For this reason, it is important to appoint a guardian and trustee for your child should the unexpected happen.
Name a guardian through estate planning
It is not enough just to tell a loved one that you want them to raise your child if you and your child’s other parent pass away before the child is grown. To make this duty legally binding, the named individual needs to be appointed by the court. One way to do this is to the individual in your will.
A guardian is the person who will have custody of your child if you and your child’s other parent pass away. Guardians will care for the child, and make many of the same decisions the parents would — big decisions such as where the child will go to school down to small decisions such as when the child will go to bed. In your will, you can name who is to be guardian of your child. If the will is valid and if the court agrees that your choice of guardian based on the child’s best interests, that person will become the child’s legal guardian.
Should you name a trustee?
You may also want to name a trustee. The trustee is the person who handles the child’s finances until the child is grown. This includes paying bills, filing tax returns, making investments and eventually distributing what is left to your child at some point in time. While guardianship ends at age 18, trustees can look over your child’s finances until the child is financially responsible, even if this goes above and beyond age 18. You can name a trustee in your will, and generally courts will respect this.
Your will is about more than property
As this shows, a young parent’s will is about more than simply what property to leave to loved ones. Naming a guardian and trustee who will raise your child and oversee their finances is equally if not more important. This post does not contain legal advice on guardianship, so young parents interested in taking steps towards creating a will may want to seek professional assistance.