Estate Planning Basics: Choosing a Guardian for Your Children

Illinois guardianship attorneysNo parent wants to think about passing away before their children have grown, but tragedies happen every day. Sadly, if families are unprepared for such an issue, their children may be further traumatized by the events that occur after their loss. As such, all parents are encouraged to name a guardian for their child in a legally drafted will. Learn more about this process, including how to choose the right person for the job, with help from the following.

Guardianship is Not Automatic

Above all else, parents need to know that guardianship is not automatic after a tragedy. For example, you may assume that your parents would automatically receive your children if something happened to you, but this is not the case. Instead, anyone that is interested in custody of your children can come forward and request it. Then a judge must hear each person’s side and determine which home may be most appropriate.

The problem with this is that the judge may not choose the same guardian that you would have chosen. Also, children may be forced to spend time in a stranger’s home – perhaps even emergency foster care – until a determination can be made. Do not let this happen to your children! Instead, choose a guardian that fits your views, preferences, and your child’s needs.

Choosing the “Right” Guardian

Choosing the “right” guardian for your children may seem like a difficult task, but as a parent, you know what is best for your children. You also know the people closest to you – the ones that may be suitable guardians. Consider, first, which ones may be interested in serving as a guardian to your children. Then ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • Does the person in question have a parenting style that closely mimics yours?
  • Are the person’s religious beliefs or core values similar to yours?
  • Is the person mentally, financially, and emotionally capable of caring for your children?
  • Does your child feel comfortable with the person?
  • Would your child have to move far away to live with that person, and would it cause additional trauma for your child?
  • Does the potential guardian have children of their own, and would it present a problem?
  • Would the person in question have the time and energy to devote to your child?

If, after considering all aspects, you believe you have a suitable guardian, consider also choosing a secondary guardian, just in case something should happen (i.e. death, disability, etc.) that might prevent your primary guardian from taking your children. Then contact an experienced lawyer to ensure you have considered all aspects of your guardianship plan.

Contact Our DuPage County Will and Guardianship Attorneys

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we are sensitive to the struggles parents face when deciding on a guardian for their child. Dedicated and experienced, we can examine your family’s needs and situation and explain your options. At every turn, we strive to protect the interest of you and your children. Learn more about how our DuPage County will and guardianship lawyers can assist with your estate planning needs by scheduling a personalized consultation. Call our offices at 630-665-2500 today.

Source:

https://www.babycenter.com/0_how-to-choose-a-guardian-for-your-child_1286759.bc

Why Just Having a Will is Not Enough

Illinois Will and Trust AttorneyEveryone knows that they must get a will before it is too late. Those who know better know that a will alone is simply not enough.  It is true that having a proper will is an important tool in preparing for death, but it is only one in a set of tools that an estate-planning attorney has.

The estate-planning attorney uses these tools to achieve their clients’ objectives. This is especially important for larger estates that may have several overarching interests.

One goal may be privacy. If a will goes through probate pursuant to the Illinois Probate Act, it will be a public document, allowing anyone to have access to it. This could create conflict in cases when a family member was left out of the will or gets a smaller portion of the estate.

One goal may be continuity. For example, if most of the assets are tied up in a business or some other venture that one may want to continue after their death, they leave sufficient assets to a trust, which would avoid probate and use the trust funds to continue the business.  The trust then would pay any income that it earns from its investment to the family members until a specific event occurs, e.g., the children turn a certain age.

Yet another goal may be tax planning. The U.S. has some daunting penalties if one’s estate qualifies for the so-called death tax. If taxes are a concern, planning should begin well in advance. One can make intervivo gifts (gifts while one is alive) which may reduce the size of the estate. They can also create irrevocable trust, which is a good way of having some control of the funds while keeping the trust res out of the estate.

If done correctly, estate planning can ensure an efficient distribution of assets after death. If you have questions, contact an experienced Illinois probate attorney who can help you determine the best course of action.