Planning with Young Children

At the time in your life when your child relies on you the most, you are the least likely to have a plan in place. According to a recent survey, 90% of Americans aged 18 to 34 do not have a Will.

Many believe that Wills and estate plans are for those who are elderly or who have substantial assets. What they are missing is that Wills are also the best way to nominate a guardian to care for your child should you be unable to.

If both parents pass away, a guardian would need to be appointed by the Court to provide for the child’s personal and financial needs. The guardian of the person, the individual who would be taking care of the child, and the guardian of the estate, the individual who would manage the child’s finances, do not need to be the same person.

While a nomination in a Will is not binding, the Probate Court will appoint the nominee named in the Will except for good cause shown to the contrary.  Further, Probate Court favors Ohio residents to act as guardians. Hence, if you would prefer an out-of-state resident, it is particularly important to make the appointment in a Will. Without a nomination in your Will, the Court will determine who it thinks is the best candidate for guardian and it may not be who you would have preferred.

One of the biggest challenges parents face in making a Will is determining who should be appointed guardian.  Important questions to consider are as follows. Does the person have the financial resources and stability to provide for the child? Does the individual have a positive and loving relationship with the child? Does the person live in the same geographical area or would his appointment require the child to be uprooted?

Those with young children hope that the guardianship nomination in their Will will never be needed. However, like obtaining life insurance, it is our job as parents to put a Will in place to ensure that our children are cared for should the unthinkable happen, however difficult making the decision can be.

For more information on the Last Will and Testament and other Estate Planning issues, contact a Cleveland Estate Planning Lawyer.