Most children never need to spend more than a few days separated from their families until they are old enough to attend camp or prepare for college. Parents, especially married parents, tend to assume that they will support their children until they become adults.
However, in a small number of households, children grow up without their parents. The parents in the family, due to accident or illness, die much earlier than anyone would have expected. Typically, the second parent in the family can assume full responsibility for the children in that scenario, but sometimes neither parent is able to care for the children.
Creating a will is the best way to protect your family against this unlikely but very serious scenario.
You can name a guardian in a will
Although you might assume that your family members will just take care of your child when you die, there is no guarantee that will happen. Family members that you think will have the space and resources to provide for your children may not be able to step into that role when the time comes.
The best way to protect your children will typically involve talking to people ahead of time about the possibility of being your children’s guardian and then creating a will so that there is a legal record of your decision.
Naming a guardian and possibly even an alternate guardian gives you a way to protect your family against the worst possible situation and ensure that your children and never wind up as wards of the state or living in foster care. You can also plan for their support if you have a medical emergency by adding other documents to your estate plan, like powers of attorney.
Creating an estate plan, including a will with guardian designations, will help you protect your dependents and family members.