Many of the families that I have worked with over the years have so much to think about they just can’t bear to go into the issues of their own death. However preparing a Will is really a positive step for securing relative-raised children. Families who do not have notarized statement of their wishes after death are leaving their material goods AND the care of their children to “Probate” – the State authority to decide how both goods and children’s care will be distributed. This is called intestate – dying without a will.
Courts are likely to return under-age children and any funds such as insurance beneficiary or educational savings accounts to the surviving parents of the child. Children live with a relative for a reason. Often care with the surviving parent is not in the best interest of the child.
What to do:
Talk with an attorney, kinship care support group, senior center, local AARP representative, or other legal assistance resource on how to prepare a Will that covers:
- An executor and alternate executor of the estate (even if you think you have nothing of value). The executor can be any trusted person who will follow through with your wishes as stated in the Will.
- A designated guardian for the children, and alternate in case the designated guardian is unable or unwilling to accept the responsibility.
- Specific wishes about protection of any funds that have designated the children as beneficiaries.
Be sure to follow through with notarizing the document, make copies and store in a safe place.
NOTE: A Living Will is not the same as the Will designating your wishes after you
die. These are two very different documents. Statements about your care if you become debilitated and unable to care for the children should be noted in a Living Will.