Estate Planning Basics: Choosing a Suitable Guardian for Your Children

Wheaton wills and trusts lawyersOf all the things that a parent must do, creating an estate plan that names a guardian for their children is, by far, one of the most difficult. That is because it not only requires the parent to consider the possibility of their death, it also requires the them to determine who may be willing, able, and best-suited to raise their child in their absence. Learn more about choosing a guardian to raise your children if a tragedy occurs, and discover how a seasoned estate planning lawyer can assist you with the process. 

Why Choosing a Guardian is Important 

Although most people know that life is unpredictable, they often want to avoid considering their own mortality – and that includes drafting estate planning documents like wills and guardianship papers. Other people simply get lost in their day-to-day lives and simply put off estate planning until “tomorrow.” Regardless of the reason for their delay, parents are highly encouraged to consider the potentially devastating consequences for their children. 

If a tragedy occurs and no will is in place, minor children and disabled adult children may be sent into the foster care system until a guardianship can be named. What is more, the courts typically allow any family member to bid for guardianship of the surviving children of a deceased parent – and that can include people who do not align with your values, religion, or parenting style. From there, the courts will make a determination, and they may use factors that seem irrelevant to you (i.e. annual income, age and overall health of the potential guardian, etc.). In short, parents who do not have a will are leaving the future of their children up to chance. 

Choosing a Guardian – Starting the Process

Only you can truly determine who may be best capable of loving and raising your children in the way that you envision. Perhaps you already have someone in mind, but you may also be struggling with the decision because there are multiple parties that would be suitable. If you are in the latter group, some of the following considerations may help you in making your decision:

  • Who might parent most like you?
  • How important is it that the guardian practice the same religion as you?
  • Are there potential guardians that share your values?
  • Is the potential guardian financially stable enough to care for your child?
  • Is the guardian capable of giving your child the love and attention they deserve?
  • Is the potential guardian mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy enough to care for your children?
  • Is there anything about the guardian that might negatively impact your child?

Keep in mind that you can choose alternate guardians, in the event that the guardian you choose is unable to care for your children upon your death. You can even create a succession plan if the first-chosen guardian passes away after taking guardianship of your children. 

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we understand that guardianship is a serious matter, as the possibility of your untimely death, and we can help you prepare for it all. Seasoned and committed to protecting the interest of your heirs and surviving family, we can help you consider all the potential scenarios and possibilities in your Illinois estate plan. Start by scheduling a personalized consultation with our Wheaton estate planning lawyers. Call 630-665-2500 today. 



Your Estate Planning: Where There is a “Will,” There is a Way

your estate planning, Wheaton estate planning attorneyOne of the most important legal issues that people need to take care of is not one that the majority of us like to even think about—making a will. However, it is also the one legal issue that is always inevitable—no matter who you are.

Having a key plan in place can help to guarantee that your final wishes are carried out. It can also help prevent the infighting that often occurs in families when a loved one dies without a will in place. Even relatives with the most altruistic motives can find themselves locking horns over what Mom or Dad's wishes would have been. Moreover, a will prevents a third entity—namely the state of Illinois—from making the determination of where your assets will go.

As difficult as it may be to sit down and begin making those decisions, there are ways to help make the process go smoother. Several key tips that legal advisors offer include the following:

  1. Make a list of your assets and then decide who will get what. The list should include all retirement and other bank accounts, insurance policies, stocks and bonds, real estate and vehicles. Your list of assets should also include furniture and appliances, jewelry and collections. Many people are now including a list of online assets they own in their wills. If there are items that are of sentimental value (more than monetary), a will is a good place to express who should receive these items.
  2. Decide who will be the executor of your estate. This is the person who will be responsible for ensuring that the wishes in your will are carried out. Additionally, this person will be responsible for paying any debts or claims against the estate, collecting any assets due the estate, and taking care of property of the estate.
  3. If you are a parent with young children, it is critical to name a person who you want to be the guardian in the event of your death. This person will be responsible for raising and caring your children, as well as overseeing the property and assets left to the children in your will.
  4. It is also recommended that you leave a note with your will which includes instructions for funeral arrangements, as well as a list of account numbers and important document locations.

Contact an Illinois Estate Planning Attorney

When sitting down to write out your final wishes, one of the most important steps you can take is consulting with an experienced Wheaton estate planning attorney. Contact the Illinois law office of Stock, Carlson, Flynn & McGrath, LLC at 630-665-2500 to discuss your options today.

Majority of Baby Boomers Ignore Estate Planning Needs

baby boomer, baby boomers, Wheaton estate planning attorney, health care proxy, living will, baby boomer generation, advance directives, end-of-life issues, estate planning needsSixty-four percent of baby boomers do not have a living will, health care proxy, or other advance directives that deal with end-of-life issues. These results were discovered via a survey conducted by the Associated Press (AP), in conjunction with

A health care proxy or health care power of attorney “allows an individual to select a person he or she trusts to make decisions about medical care.” Advance directives are critical documents to have in place because they clearly state a person's medical choices. Both are essential to have in the event an illness or accident makes it impossible for an individual to articulate his or her wishes.

Of the 1,416 adults interviewed in the survey, 1,078 participants were from the baby boom generation. Members of the baby boom generation include those who were born between the years 1946 to 1964.

The majority of the surveyed participants felt there was not yet a need to make end-of-life plans because they considered themselves healthy. They also noted that middle-age is too young to be making these kinds of plans.

However, there is a misconception that this type of estate planning is only for individuals who are in their late 60's and 70's. Many in the medical and legal field point out that advance directives are important for adults to have in place despite age or health. Tragic accidents or illness can happen to anyone, at anytime, and if an individual has not taken the legal steps to ensure their wishes will be followed, it could lead to a long, drawn out legal battle between family members.

If you are a baby boomer and have yet to develop your estate plan, contact an experienced Wheaton estate planning attorney today to find out what options may be right for you and your family. However, regardless of your generation, estate planning is something everyone should consider. Call 630-665-2500 today.