No child should be forced to face the loss of their parents. For an adult who has survived their loved ones, grief is a natural part of experiencing a loss. However, there are several key differences when an adult grieves the loss of a loved one. Although grief can be incredibly difficult to manage, most adults come equipped with the ability to appropriately make sense of their experiences. Additionally, they will likely know where they will be living because, in most cases, an adult is not dependent in the same way that a child is.
When one or both parents pass away, your child stands to face a series of unknowns, especially if there is no estate plan in place to outline the care of the child. If you are a parent of minor children, it’s important that you begin developing your estate plan as soon as possible with an estate attorney. No child or family should be forced to make plans for your children without your input.
When a person passes away intestate, they have died without a will or estate plan in place. As a result, many decisions are likely to be made by the probate courts. Without a will, the probate court will identify an executor or administrator to oversee your estate. They will also identify a guardian to take care of your children and a conservator to manage the financial aspects of their care. In some cases, the person selected may be one and the same, or, two people may carry each role separately.
The Best Interest of the Child
When a parent passes away without an estate plan, they will make decisions based on the best interest of the child. Losing both parents is a traumatic experience for a child. The court will work to appoint a guardian who is suitable to take on their care and, that can provide them with a transition of care that reduces the impact on the child. The guardian appointed is usually a person whom the child already has a strong relationship. Often, the family is looked to first to take on this responsibility.
You Lose Your Voice
You probably don’t want your family or a probate court making decisions regarding your child’s care. Without your estate plan, you lose your voice and ability to make a plan for the care of your children should you no longer be here to take care of them. Without an estate plan, there are a number of consequences your children and family stand to experience. They will be left to guess as to what your final wishes may have been. Your children may experience not only a sense of loss but unnecessary stress in not knowing where they will live or who will take care of them. One fairly significant unintended consequence is the likelihood for familial tensions to arise. It’s not uncommon for family members to disagree with how your estate plan should be managed. Don’t put your family at risk of experiencing fractured relationships amidst their grief, this can result in long-standing conflict within your family.
Contact an estate planning lawyer as soon as possible so that you may begin finalizing your final wishes. You owe it to your children to have a plan that safeguards their care for the future should you pass prior to their coming of age.