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Don’t Send Your Kids Back to School Without These Documents

As summer comes to a close, and back-to-school excitement fills the air, there is one frequently overlooked task to complete—designating legal guardians for your minor children. Legal guardians are the individuals you entrust with the care of your children if, for any reason, you are unable to do so yourself.

In the hustle of back-to-school shopping and end-of-season summer fun, it might seem like naming legal guardians for your kids is a low priority, but it’s among the most important.

As kids return to school, they’ll spend most of their day in the care of other people: their teachers, coaches, and babysitters. These people do not have any legal authority to take care of them for more than a brief time if you are in an accident or can’t be reached for any reason.

If your kids are going off to college, you’ll no longer be able to make decisions for them or have access to their medical records in an emergency, unless your adult kids create Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives.

Don’t Rely on Informal Agreements

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and as parents, you usually have a network of friends or family you feel you can rely on to step in and care for your child if needed. Relying solely on informal arrangements with relatives or friends to care for your kids if you can’t is not recommended.

Whenever something happens to you and you cannot get to your children, you want to make sure there’s no chance your children end up with someone you don’t approve of or with an agency—even for a short time.

The person selected to take your child may not be someone your child knows or loves or someone you would never want to raise your kids but who is appointed anyway by a well-meaning court system that doesn’t know what you would want.

Even those that you love and trust could be in chaos if you don’t actually name a legal guardian for your kids, especially if those you love and trust have conflict because you didn’t provide the right guidance. Naming only one guardian a common mistake made when choosing a guardian for their kids.

The bottom line is that you know your child and your family better than anyone else, and you know who would be the best fit for raising your child if something happened to you. Unless you document your choice of guardian in advance, the decision of who would raise your child if you can’t is ultimately left to a judge who doesn’t know you or your family dynamics.

Naming short-term and long-term guardians for your kids ensures they are always cared for by people you know and trust and it helps those people understand their role better too.

If your kids are off at college, you cannot rely on the fact that you know they’d want you to have access to their medical records and financial accounts if something happened to them. The hospital or banks need official legal documents for you to get access if needed. We can provide families with young adult the right planning documents before going away to college.

Comprehensive Protection for Your Child

To make sure your kids are always protected and cared for by people you trust, we recommend establishing a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan. Every Kids Protection Plan enables you to name short-term temporary guardians, who have immediate authority to care for your children in an emergency, and long-term permanent guardians, who can raise your children if you are no longer able.

All caregivers, like babysitters and nannies, can also be provided with precise instructions on how to reach your short and long-term guardians, and everyone involved in your plan can have the necessary legal documents on hand to ensure a smooth process if the need for a guardian arises.

With a Kids Protection Plan, not only have you legally named guardians for your kids, but also you’ve created a plan to ensure they are always cared for in the way you’d want in any situation.

For your college-bound kids, we recommend having young adult planning documents in place like Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives that allow you [or someone else they trust] to access your kids’ accounts or make medical decisions for them if they become incapacitated by an illness or injury.

A Thoughtful Approach for Your Peace of Mind

We take the well-being of your children seriously. As the back-to-school season approaches, don't overlook this homework for parents: naming legal guardians and creating your own Kids Protection Plan.

Our first step is to go through the planning process to choose the right plan for you, your kids and everyone you love. When you work with us, we begin with an initial meeting called a Family Wealth Planning Session, where I get to know your family and your family dynamics. I’ll share the law with you, and together we’ll look at exactly what would happen to your assets and your loved ones if something happened to you right now.

From there, you choose whether the status quo works, or if you want something else to achieve your personal objectives based on your own family circumstance. This ensures your children and family are cared for and protected no matter what happens, so you can embrace the excitement of this new academic year with peace of mind.

To learn more and get started with your own Family Wealth Planning Session, call us and schedule a free 15 minute call.

This article is a service of Rayboun Winegardner, PLLC, a Personal Family Lawyer® Firm. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session.

The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

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