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We are expecting. What should be our top priority in terms of estate planning?

Ali Katz


Q: My husband and I are expecting our first child in 7 months. What should be our top priority in terms of estate planning?

-Prudent parent

A: Dear Prudent:

When it comes to estate planning, the single-most important planning task for parents is to select and legally document guardians to care for your minor children in the event of your death or incapacity. And this doesn’t mean simply naming godparents or trusting that grandparents will step in if necessary.

Legally documenting guardians means consciously deciding who would raise your child if you cannot be there, and then documenting your choices in writing for both the long-term and the immediate term. Without documented legal guardians, your child is extremely vulnerable to being placed into the custody of someone you wouldn’t want if something should ever happen to you and your husband.

Or, even worse, your child could be temporarily taken into the care of strangers while the authorities try to figure out what to do with your kids in the immediate term. While that may be only temporary, no parent wants their child in the care of strangers, even for a short while.

While it’s rare for something to happen to both parents of a minor child, it does occur. And the consequences are just too severe to not take the time to select and legally name guardians the proper way—something only a few select lawyers are trained how to do comprehensively, as we are.

Meet with a Personal Family Lawyer® for help and support in naming legal guardians for your minor children, for both the immediate and long term.