“Oh no, it’s fine. If something happens to us, the kids will go with my parents, or my husband’s brother or sister.”
I hear this all too often when talking to parents about who would care for their minor children if something bad should happen to them. Little do these parents know, without the proper legal documents, grandma and grandpa will not be taking the kids into custody.
Would you want a hospital or first responder to turn over your kids to just anyone who claims they are a family member? Probably not! That is why naming legal guardians for your minor children is so important. Without naming your own desired guardians for your children, it is very likely they will be placed in temporary foster care until a legal guardian is appointed by a court.
Another issue to consider is if your child has special needs or requires special attention for allergies or another medical condition. You should want that child to immediately be placed with someone who knows of the child’s condition and is readily able to care for them, rather than the risk of having the child going into temporary foster care or an undesirable family member petitioning a court for guardianship over them.
The presence of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has made it even harder for family members and loved ones to just take the kids into custody without proper legal documentation.
A common misconception about estate planning is that simply naming a legal guardian for your minor children in a Last Will & Testament is enough to keep your kids out of the care of strangers, or someone you would not want, if something happens to you. In reality, a Last Will becomes active only AFTER you pass away. Therefore, it does not cover any guardianship while you are living but become incapacitated or seriously injured and unable to care for your children.
Chances of COVID-19 infection in the family
If you are young and healthy, it might be hard to imagine not being there to care for your kids as they grow older. If the COVID-19 pandemic is showing us anything, it is that even a healthy person can contract a serious illness that leaves them incapacitated and unable to care for their children.
If there is more than one adult in the house, that may alleviate some of your worry. While naming legal guardians for your kids may feel especially urgent for a single parent, parents with partners are not off the hook. Married couples with minor children should also take precautions, especially since there are high infection rates among people who live in the same household.
A professor at the University of Florida has found a more than 19% chance that someone else in the household of a person infected with COVID-19 will also contract the disease. Researchers estimate the average incubation time is about four days and could be infectious for up to two weeks.
Without strict adherence to social and physical distancing restrictions taking place, and businesses and society trying to act like things are normal all across the country, there is a lot more interaction taking place amongst family members and strangers in public.
This all means it is not outside the realm of possibility that you and your spouse/partner could both contract the illness, possibly at the same time.
Even if you don’t get COVID-19, you still need to name guardians for your minor children
Even if you never contract COVID-19, you are still human and vulnerable to accidents and other dangers that could separate you from your kids—either temporarily or permanently.
That is why is it crucial to name both temporary and permanent legal guardians for your children. Temporary guardians are typically neighbors or trusted loved ones who live close by and are readily available to pick up your kids from school, home, or the hospital, if something should happen to you. Your minor children’s temporary guardians will need to care for your children in the short-term until your permanent guardians arrive, possibly from out of state or who were unavailable on short notice.
Permanent guardians, on the other hand, are those people who you trust to raise and care for your minor children for the long-term in the event of your prolonged incapacity, or death.
The Kids Protection Plan®
If you are having a difficult time deciding who to name as legal guardians for your children, I can help you make the right decisions. Check out my Kids Protection Plan® to learn more about the different documents you need to ensure your kids are taken care of by trusted people and under your specific directions.
With the Kids Protection Plan®, you are able to nominate your short- and long-term guardians and health care surrogate for minors; provide health care instructions for your kids; preserve your human and spiritual legacy; and include detailed written instructions to your children’s caretaker. Each parent also receives an emergency wallet ID card to inform first responders and health care workers that you have minor children and the names and phone numbers of their guardians.
Officially answering the question of who will care for your kids in your absence – even for a short time – is one of the best things you can do right now. It is a real, concrete way you can protect your kids and give you the peace of mind that their future is secure no matter what happens – especially during this uncertain period of time. Get in touch today to learn more.
Stay positive. Stay informed. Stay Safe.