Guardianship and estate planning

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2022 | Estate Planning

When parents plan their estates, one key inclusion is guardianships. This is especially important for parents of children who may never be able to live on their own. And, while planning for our deaths is a scary conversation, for parents, it is one we need to have as soon as possible. Why? Because we never know when we will pass, and the last thing we want is for our children to become wards of North Carolina. And, this post will provide additional information after our prior post on this topic.

Guardianships, generally

The legal term, guardian (also known as conservator or tutor), refers to when another person is legally empowered to care for someone when their current guardian or parent is unable. This can be for pets, elderly parents and, most commonly, children. When empowered, they become responsible for the care, including housing, food, education, medical and all basic needs. They, essentially, become the parent and are responsible for the everyday needs of their wards. This means they must be willing to do so because just become they are named as a guardian does not mean they have to accept.

Deciding on a guardian

Becoming a guardian is a huge decision. This is why parents should talk to the people they want to become guardians to ensure that they want that responsibility. Do not make assumptions, even about your parents and grandparents. In addition, once your guardian has agreed, periodically follow back up with them to make sure they have not changed their mind. It is also a good idea to have several backup guardians, just in case they change their mind, die at the same time as you or die before you have time to update your Charlotte, North Carolina, estate plan.

There can be more than one guardian

A guardian can be fully empowered over your child’s financial, personal and legal affairs. Or, you can name different guardians for those purposes and have them work together for the care of your Charlotte, North Carolina, children.

Provide guidance

Of course, you should choose guardians who share your same beliefs, but you should also provide the guardian with guidance on your wishes for the children. Of course, they do not have to follow that guidance, but, if you create a trust, you can put financial incentives into that trust to help ensure your guidance is followed.

Plan for their care

As part of your Charlotte, North Carolina, estate plan, be sure to plan for the care of your children to give your designated guardian the ability to care for your children. This can be done through a will with a one-time lump-sum payment, or through a trust that can control what those funds are used for and how much the guardian receives at a time.