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Legal Guardianship – Expecting the Unexpected

 Posted on February 09,2024 in Uncategorized

While guardianship requirements and laws vary from state to state, the underlying importance of the decision is universal. In this guest blog, Meghan Freed, co-owner/founder of Freed Marcroft Divorce & Family Law in Hartford, CT, discusses the main points of why guardianship choices are so important. 

If there is one thing we have all learned in the last few years through pandemics and lockdowns, it is that the future is delicate and uncertain

We can have our plan and path laid out in detail, only to be completely derailed by a life event we never saw coming. Of course, not all of these events will be catastrophic, but being prepared for anything - in advance - will always make these situations easier to navigate.

When children under 18 are involved, one of the most important ways to prepare for the unexpected is to formally designate a legal guardian (or guardians) for your child, in the event that you and your spouse are no longer able to care for them.  This designation should be in writing and signed by all parties in the presence of an attorney.

When parents do not elect to name a legal guardian for their child(ren), and the unthinkable happens, it could be left up to the Court to determine who the children should be placed with, and it may not be the party you would have chosen

This designation should be in writing and signed by all parties with the guidance and presence of a trained attorney in Florida.

Though picking a guardian is a very personal decision, the following are points that everyone should consider:

Tips for Selecting a Guardian

  1. Designate more than one guardian - Better safe than sorry — in case something happens to your main guardian, choose and name a successor (or two!) to be the backup.
  2. If you select a couple to serve together, decide and document what happens if only one spouse or partner is able to be a guardian - Stuff happens.  The co-guardians you selected could divorce or split up — or one of them could become incapacitated or pass away.  We can assist you in detailing what you would like to happen.  (For example, you might decide whether the guardian can serve alone or you would rather have someone else entirely step in instead.)
  3. Do not make a potential guardian’s financial resources the major consideration - Pick a guardian who will take good care of your children and raise them with your values and priorities.  That is not necessarily the same person you would choose to be in charge of your kids’ money, and it does not have to be. You can leave money for your children’s care to a trust to ensure it’s managed properly by a trustee of your choice.
  4. Specifically exclude any family members you know you do not want to care for your kids - In some circumstances, it’s important to document who you do not want in addition to who you do want to serve as guardian.
  5. Establish a trust - This can reduce the probate court's involvement and increase your children’s privacy.

Contact a Miami, FL Family Lawyer

If you do not want to specify a legal guardian for your child, you are leaving this immensely important decision up to strangers.  Documenting your preferences and wishes now will ensure an easier process when and if ever needed. Remember, Florida mandates that the Guardian appointed must be a Florida resident or directly related to the child. Prepare in advance, and talk to the trusted Miami, FL family law attorneys at Miami Family Law Group, PLLC today to be ready for whatever life throws at you. Call 305-520-7874 for a private consultation

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