What to Consider When Using a Texas Estate Plan to Nominate Guardians for Your Kids

There are many important functions of a Texas estate plan which include succession and incapacity planning, asset protection and tax avoidance, but the most important function of an estate plan if you are a parent is providing for your children if something should happen to you and your spouse. An estate plan should both nominate a guardian for your children and establish financial arrangements for their care in the event of a car accident or other incapacitating event that leaves both you and your children’s other parent incapacitated.

Generally, parents may include a provision in their will to indicate who they wish to nominate as a guardian for their children. The court will typically honor this nomination unless there is some compelling reason not to do so, such as the person nominated is unwilling to accept the responsibility of being appointed guardian. While no one wishes to contemplate this extremely unlikely possibility of incapacitation of both parents, it is important that parents take steps to protect their kids if tragedy should strike. Further, the choice of who to appoint as a guardian for one’s children can be a difficult decision so it is important to carefully consider this decision in advance and prepare both the potential guardian and your kids.

Before electing someone as a guardian for your children in your estate planning documents, you should discuss your intentions with the prospective guardians to ensure that they are prepared to undertake the duties and responsibilities of raising your children according to your wishes. While you do not necessarily need to discuss your choice of guardian with your children, your kids will benefit from having someone appointed with whom they have a close relationship. The sudden change of going to live with someone besides one’s parents is difficult so the easier you can make the process the better it will be for your children. Here are some issues to consider when determining who to nominate as a guardian for your minor children:

• Philosophy and Approach to Parenting: If you pick those who have a similar parental philosophy when it comes to imposing rules and consequences as well as other parenting issues, it will make the transition easier for your children. While there will obviously be differences between the way people parent, the less radical the change the easier it will be to adapt.

• Avoiding Across the Board Changes: Sometimes there is no alternative other than to uproot kids if the best choice for a guardian does not live close. If it is a close decision between relatives that are able to move into your family home or that live close as opposed to parents that live in a distant state, however, your kids can benefit from maintaining their friends, school, activities and neighborhood.

• Provide for Financial Care: A Texas estate planning attorney can assist you in establishing the best financial arrangements for your kids if your nominated guardians need to care for your children. Sometimes it is advantageous to set up a trust that covers all of your children while in other situations there may be benefits to setting up a separate trust for each child. When you talk to your estate planning lawyer, he can advise you regarding the most efficient, safe and cost-effective alternative.

• Promote a Pre-Existing Relationship: If the best alternative to care for your children is a person who lives a good distance away, you should make efforts to ensure there is a pre-existing relationship. Whether it is arranging to visit this person or arranging for them to visit your home, the more contact your children can have with a potential guardian the more comfortable they will be if they need to live with this person.

At our Arlington estate planning law firm, Mr. Reino carefully evaluates your estate to create an estate plan that is appropriate for your specific situation. If you have questions or need estate planning documents prepared, we invite you to contact us at 817.303.2133 or send us an email at tom@tomreinolaw.com so that you can set up an initial consultation.

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