Tag: Guardianship

Choosing Legal Guardians for Kids When Mom and Dad are Divorced | Houston Wills Lawyer

As a Houston wills lawyer, I can not state emphatically enough how important it is for all parents to create a comprehensive plan that will protect their children should the unthinkable occur.

But what happens if you are divorced and can not come to an agreement with your ex-spouse as to who should raise your kids if something happens to you? Should you go ahead and document your own guardianship wishes anyway? And just whose wishes would hold up in court?

In most cases, if your child’s biological parent is still living at the time of your death and you share custody, your children will be raised by the surviving parent, unless there is some clear reason why that should not happen.

There is nothing you can do about this unless you can prove that the child’s biological parent is unfit to raise your child and make a compelling case as to why your guardianship nominations should be honored under the circumstances.

Examples of this might include a severe drug addiction, criminal past or a history of abuse.

However, if this is unlikely, the next best thing to do is name guardians anyway so that your wishes for the care of your children will be known and taken into consideration should your ex-spouse also pass away before your kids reach the age of 18.

This is especially important in the event your ex-spouse did not legally document his or her guardianship wishes upon passing, as your wishes would then be given priority over, say, an unwilling step-parent (just think back to the Cinderella story for a chilling example of this).

Finally, if you are a single parent and have concerns not only about guardianship but also concerning your ex-spouse handling any assets you would leave to your kids if you passed away first, I encourage you to meet with a Houston wills lawyer right away so you can protect such funds in a trust. If you need help getting started with this, please feel free to give us a call at Hegwood Law Group and request a consultation: (218) 218-0880.

 

Complete a Complete Estate Plan

When it comes to planning, the focus is typically on making you better prepared for the future. That means limiting taxes, creating wiser investment strategies, knowing when it’s best to claim Social Security and developing sustainable retirement income plans. All of these help you on the path to your financial future and your long-term goals. But The Brainerd (MN) Dispatch reports in “3 common estate planning questions, answered,” that there is, however, one exception. That’s estate planning. While much of financial planning primarily benefits you, your estate planning primarily benefits your family and loved ones. 11-14-16

The basic component of your estate plan is your will but there may be other parts you need. Depending on your estate, you may want to consider a trust, in addition to healthcare directives, powers of attorneys and guardian designations. You should also remember that your will isn't necessarily the only instruction when it comes to distributing your assets. The beneficiary designations on your retirement and brokerage accounts, and the life insurance policies you own will take precedence over what you say in your will. Review beneficiary designations regularly to be sure the money in your accounts or the death benefit on a life insurance policy goes to the right person.

A trust can be complicated, so talk with an estate planning attorney to see if it makes sense and whether you'll actually benefit from using a trust. If most of your assets are covered by beneficiary designations or owned in joint tenancy, those assets are already exempt from probate, so they won’t necessarily benefit from a trust strategy.

The executor or the personal representative is the person who will be responsible for carrying out the instructions in your will, settling your debts and paying taxes on your estate. As far as selecting an executor, it should be someone with the capacity to carry out the needed tasks of the position. It also needs to be someone who is willing to serve and is familiar with your situation such as a family member or a close family friend.

If you don't spend every last dollar you have to your name on the day you die, you'll need to have an estate plan. Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to develop one.

Reference: The Brainerd (MN) Dispatch (Sept. 23, 2016) “3 common estate planning questions, answered”

Want Estate Planning? No, You Need It!

Estate planning is a need, but too often it gets moved down to the list for tomorrow.

There are many reasons people put off estate planning, like discussing death and dying. The (Memphis TN) Daily News recently published an article, entitled “Estate Planning – It’s a Need,” that explained how one person might be a great choice for guardian, trustee, power of attorney or executor. However, what if when the time comes they’ve moved or don’t want the responsibility. What does your family do then? 11-09-16

What if a person named in the will needs to be removed later? What if estate laws change or your circumstances change and there’s a better option?

There will always be changes in our lives. We may live to see our children grow to be adults when they no longer need a guardian. Then again, about that time our parents will age and may need a guardian. We switch jobs, get promoted or get laid off. Investments go up and down. Laws will change, and new legislation will be enacted. These are all important factors on the list of what needs to be addressed in estate planning.

Estate planning is important and it requires significant time and effort. Without a comprehensive estate plan much or all of what you’ve achieved in your life could be lost or given to unintended beneficiaries.

A good way to plan is to draft your will like you were going to die today. Once you have that done, create a review system to ensure your will remains relevant and up-to-date. Talk with a qualified estate planning attorney and let him or her guide you through the process.

Effective estate planning will typically reduce your taxes and those of your estate. In addition, it can save time and expense when settling an estate.

Develop a good working relationship with an experienced estate planning attorney.

Instead of the surviving spouse or children searching for hours through papers and trying to determine what to do next, you should consult with an attorney who will have the documents in hand to help guide the process with minimal impact on the grieving family.

Reference: The (Memphis TN) Daily News (Sept. 23, 2016) “Estate Planning – It’s a Need”