Parents of minor children need a Last Will and Testament
“I don’t own anything of real value, why do I need a Will?”
Do you have a child under 18?
If the answer is yes and you want to be sure they are in the right hands if you should die, then you should have a Will. Although not unique to Florida, a Last Will and Testament presents an opportunity to nominate a guardian for your minor child if there is no surviving parent. This nomination is given priority consideration by a guardianship judge when determining who shall care for your child.
What happens if I don’t bother to nominate a guardian?
Generally, the closest blood relative takes precedent but there are other factors such as:
- State of residence
- Criminal history (among other concerns, a convicted felon may not act as guardian)
- Capacity to care for the child (both physical and financial)
Who should you nominate as guardian?
This is a very subjective question which only you can answer. You can nominate virtually anyone: a grandparent, close friend or adult sibling. The courts will consider all factors when rendering its final decision, but your nomination weighs heavily on that decision.
It’s also very important that when possible, both parents discuss these nominations. If there’s a dispute, so be it – at least name someone you trust and believe is up to the task.
When discussing this decision with my clients, the knee jerk reaction is almost always to consider a similar married couple that has children of a similar age. While logical and rational, nominating a husband and wife pairing could fall apart if the couple were ever to get divorced. Sometimes as couples age, their values and priorities mature into different directions. So it’s often best to pick one person, followed by at least one “successor” should the first nominee decline to serve as guardian.
Calculating the odds
Many clients suggest to me that the notion of both parents dying is far fetched. My immediate response is that a car accident can change that theory in a heartbeat. Even if one parent survives a car accident, he or she may later succumb to injuries.
Even if a grandparent is available to serve as guardian, he or she may not be up to to the task physically or financially. The courts strongly prefer parental guidance in making these decisions and your Last Will & Testament is the best way to address this concern.
Contact us today if you’re interested in securing the well being of your child if you’re not around to care for them.
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