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Keeping the children in mind during estate planning

A typical feature of an estate plan for the parent of minor children in Colorado is a document about guardianship. This statement tells the court who the deceased or incapacitated parents designated as the legal guardian of their minor children. However, such a plan too often overlooks the immediate aftermath of a tragedy when young children receive the news of the loss of their parents. Their legal guardian might not be immediately available, and a court still has to review the estate plan and make the custody of the children official. Additional documentation from the parents could resolve this situation.

This supplemental document states who should care for children as soon as authorities announce the loss of parents. The intermediary caregivers could be neighbors, friends or relatives. They should be known to the children and hopefully nearby and able to take immediate custody. The legal notice should be in the home, and babysitters should know about it so that they can call the appropriate person in the event of a tragedy or emergency.

A legal declaration about child caregivers prior to the assignment of legal guardianship could reduce trauma on children. Without it, police or other public officials might take the children to child protective services. The kids would then be in a strange place in the care of strangers during a frightening time.

A person concerned about estate planning could gain insights about important variables by consulting an attorney. After doing a little research, the lawyer could alert the client to overlooked issues, such as child guardianship, taxes on heirs or the claims of creditors. The attorney could suggest approaches to achieving certain goals and write the documents necessary to form an official estate plan that a court could accept.

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