Providing for Minor Children

It is important to note that your estate plan address issues regarding the upbringing of your children. If your children are young, you may want to consider implementing a plan that will allow your surviving spouse to devote more attention to your children without the burden of work obligations. You may also want to provide for special counseling and resources for your spouse if you believe they lack the experience or ability to handle financial and legal matters. 

Discuss the possibility of both you and your spouse dying simultaneously or within a short duration of time with your attorney to create a contingency plan should this occur. This plan should declare a person or persons to manage your assets, as well as the guardian to ensure the proper upbringing of your children.

The person or trustee in charge of your financial assets need not be the same person as the guardian. In many situations you may intentionally designate different persons to maintain a system of checks and balances. If a person or persons is not declared, the court will appoint one for you. In those instances, the court may or may not select the person(s) desired and they may encounter undue burdens and restrictions placed on them by the court, such as having to provide an annual account. Additionally, make sure that your plan does not create an additional financial burden for the guardian.

Take into careful consideration your choice of guardian to ensure that he or she shares the values you want instilled in your children. You will also want to give consideration to the age and financial condition of a potential guardian. Some guardians may lack child-rearing skills you feel are necessary.