Why Every Parent Needs a Will
Author: Lauren Gottschalk-Scher
Amidst the joy of celebrating new life, your own mortality is the last thing you want to think about. Although it is incredibly uncomfortable and sad to consider the possibility of not being around to raise your children due to incapacitation or death, it's extremely important for every parent to write a will.
If you were to die without writing a will, a judge would appoint a guardian for your child, and it may not be who you would have chosen. When considering a possible guardian for your children, consider the following practical matters. Is the potential guardian physically able to raise your child? Many people name their own parents as guardians without considering their physical stamina, health, and the probability that they will die first. Consider the amount of time a potential guardian will have to raise your child. Your sister, who is a doctor, may have the disposable income necessary to raise your children, but may not have as much free time to spend with them as you would have hoped. Do your prospective guardians have children of their own, and are they close in age to your own children? There are positives and negatives to naming both parents and non-parents as guardians. Consider all possibilities and how they would affect the way your children would be raised. Think about how you plan to raise your children, and what aspects of that upbringing are most important to you. Choose a guardian who will be able to provide your children with the experiences and values you find most important. Will you be leaving enough money or financial assets for a guardian to raise your children? If not, you should choose a guardian who is financially stable enough to raise them.
Although many people leave their money and financial assets to the same person they name as legal guardian of their children, it is not necessary to do so. If your brother is great with children and bad with money, and your friend is great with money but not fond of children, it is possible and advisable to name your brother as guardian to your children and appoint your friend to take care of your money and assets. If you decide to leave your children and finances to two different people, make sure they can work together to provide a great future for your children.
Once you have decided who you would like to appoint as guardian to your children and/or your financial assets, it is important to sit down and discuss the possibility with them. It's crucial to make sure they are willing and able to take on this responsibility. You can also take this time to share any specific wishes you may have for your children's upbringing or financial future in the event of your death. You should also consider naming a backup guardian, in case your first choice becomes unwilling or unable to take on the responsibility.
When you have figured out who you want to name as legal guardian, you should make a list of all of your savings, property, and debt. Take these figures to your lawyer, who can help you draft a will. Spouses will typically have their own wills, leaving their property to the other spouse in the event of death. Guardians only come into play when both spouses die.
Although facing the possibility of death is difficult, writing a Will will protect your children's future and bring you peace of mind.