The birth of a new child is a joyous occasion, but it can also be a frightening one. Will your child be taken care of if something happens to both you and your significant other? Who will care for the child, and what funds will go towards his or her upbringing? Updating or establishing an estate plan during this pivotal new time of life is an absolute must for all Florida parents.
A guardian is a person legally tasked with caring for a child should their parents be unable to do so. Most parents would prefer to select their child’s guardian rather than leaving it up to the courts, so including this in a will is important. Typically, parents understand who will provide the best possible care for their child, whereas the courts do their best but may operate on limited knowledge. A judge can review facts, but will not necessarily know what individual parents feel best suits their own parenting style.
Naming a guardian is not necessarily enough to ensure a child’s continued well-being. A trustee oversees the child’s finances — usually what was left to them by their parents — and makes sure that their bills are paid, taxes are taken care of and that all other money is used appropriately. In some cases the trustee is also the guardian, but it is also OK to select a different person to fill this role or to have the guardian act as a co-trustee with that individual.
Establishing a guardian and trustee for your child is just a small part of creating a comprehensive estate plan. Many parents in Florida also use trusts, living wills and powers of attorney to not only protect their child, but also their own interests and assets. By taking the time to establish a plan and regularly update it, parents can be assured that their children will be cared for no matter what the future holds.